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101  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / David Brooks: The Ambition Explosion on: November 29, 2014, 02:42:02 PM

The Ambition Explosion

NOV. 27, 2014
David Brooks


In 1976, Daniel Bell published a book called “The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism.” Bell argued that capitalism undermines itself because it nurtures a population of ever more self-gratifying consumers. These people may start out as industrious, but they soon get addicted to affluence, spending, credit and pleasure and stop being the sort of hard workers capitalism requires.

Bell was right that there’s a contradiction at the heart of capitalism, but he got its nature slightly wrong. Affluent, consumerist capitalists still work hard. Just look around.

The real contradiction of capitalism is that it arouses enormous ambition, but it doesn’t help you define where you should focus it. It doesn’t define an end to which you should devote your life. It nurtures the illusion that career and economic success can lead to fulfillment, which is the central illusion of our time.

Capitalism on its own breeds people who are vaguely aware that they are not living the spiritually richest life, who are ill-equipped to know how they might do so, who don’t have the time to do so, and who, when they go off to find fulfillment, end up devoting themselves to scattershot causes and light religions.

To survive, capitalism needs to be embedded in a moral culture that sits in tension with it, and provides a scale of values based on moral and not monetary grounds. Capitalism, though, is voracious. The personal ambition it arouses is always threatening to blot out the counterculture it requires.

Modern China is an extreme example of this phenomenon, as eloquently described by Evan Osnos in his book, “Age of Ambition,” which just won the National Book Award for nonfiction.

As Osnos describes it, the capitalist reforms of Deng Xiaoping raised the ambition levels of an entire society. A people that had been raised under Mao to be a “rustless screw in the revolutionary machine” had the chance, in the course of one generation, to achieve rags-to-riches wealth. This led, Osnos writes, to a hunger for new sensations, a ravenous desire to make new fortunes.

Osnos describes the “English fever” that swept some Chinese youth. Li Yang was a shy man who found that the louder he bellowed English phrases the bolder he felt as a human being. Li filled large arenas, charging more than a month’s wages for a single day of instruction. He had the crowds shouting English phrases en masse, like “I would like to take your temperature!” and repeating his patriotic slogans, “Conquer English to make China stronger!”

Osnos interviewed a member of the Li cult who called himself Michael and considered himself a “born-again English speaker.” For Michael, learning English was intermingled with the aspirational mantras he surrounded himself with: “The past does not equal the future. Believe in yourself. Create miracles.”

It was this ambition explosion as much as anything else that created China’s prosperity. One mother who called herself “Harvard Mom” had her daughter hold ice cubes in her hands for 15 minutes at a time to teach fortitude. Soon China was building the real estate equivalent of Rome every fortnight.

But the fever, like communism before it, stripped away the deep rich spiritual traditions of Buddhism and Taoism. Society hardened. Corruption became rampant. People came to believe that society was cruel and unforgiving. They hunkered down. One day, a little girl was hit by a bread truck in the city of Foshan. Seventeen people passed and did nothing as she lay bleeding on the ground. The security video of the incident played over and over again on TV, haunting the country.


Li Yang, the English teacher, turned out to be a notorious wife-beater. His disciple, Michael, became embittered. The optimistic slogans now on his wall had undertones of frustration: “I have to mentally change my whole life’s destiny!” and “I can’t stand it anymore!”

This led, as it must among human beings who are endowed with a moral imagination that can be suppressed but never destroyed, to a great spiritual searching. Osnos writes that many Chinese sensed that there was a spiritual void at the core of their society. They sought to fill it any way they could, with revived Confucianism, nationalism, lectures by the Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel and Christianity.

Osnos writes that this spiritual searching is going out in all directions at once with no central melody. One gets the sense that the nation’s future will be determined as much by this quest as by political reform or capitalist innovation.

China is desperately searching for a spiritual and humanist nest to hold capitalist ambition. Those of us in the rest of the world are probably not searching as feverishly for a counterculture, but the essential challenge is the same. Capitalist ambition is an energizing gale force. If there’s not an equally fervent counterculture to direct it, the wind uproots the tender foliage that makes life sweet.
102  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: November 29, 2014, 12:51:09 PM
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/29/us/white-house-tested-limits-of-powers-before-action-on-immigration.html?emc=edit_th_20141129&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=49641193&_r=0
103  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / TITUTIT on: November 28, 2014, 08:10:27 PM
Thank you for your effort to engage on the merits.

In that our side is vociferously howling UNCONSTITUIONAL!!! we damn well be well prepared to answer the specific assertions of the OLC.

Said with my lawyer's hat on-- so far I am not hearing a very good job of it. 

Yes it is fair to say that the exception here is swallowing the rule, yes we MAY have an valid point with the work papers being issued (and not necessarily-- I have see stuff, I forget where, asserting this can be done under the DACA) and we can point out that these people are not eligible for Obamacare and as such have a tremendous cost advantage now over Americans, whom per Obamacare employers must provide Obamacare, but none of this is really going to cut through the noise.  Decent political hay can be made with pointing out Baraq's 25 or so statements that he can't do this, but when push comes to shove the other side will point to the OLC opinion and we will have to answer these questions.

What we are seeing here is that the Reps are reaping the seeds of not articulating alternatives.   There needs to be an analog of Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America" here.

Some random thoughts:

a) Pass a bill with enough funding to fg deport all eleven million.  Specify that all 11M are to be deported, period.  If not, specify who not-- e.g. do we really want to deport someone who came here as a baby and has lived here essentially all his life and thinks of himself as an American?

b) Specify criteria to define if/when the border is secure.

c) Have a think tank do some serious work on drafting and alternative to birth babies bootstrapping their parents into America.

d) As a political matter and a human kindness matter I suspect there will be some people for whom amnesty is a fair call.  Newt Gingrich, tried making this point during the FL debates with his comments about not deporting Grandma after 20 years, but Romney mugged him from the right.  The point remains, at some point it will be a good call to apply some sort of statute of limitations concept.

e) keep alive the distinction between work papers and citizenship.
104  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Ebola in Sierra Leone on: November 28, 2014, 07:51:29 PM
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/28/world/africa/despite-aid-push-ebola-is-raging-in-sierra-leone.html?emc=edit_th_20141128&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=49641193&_r=0
105  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The lessons of Nazi romance with Islam for US on: November 28, 2014, 04:38:57 PM
The Nazi Romance With Islam Has Some Lessons for the United States

Two new important histories look at Hitler’s fascination with Islam and Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey

By David Mikics|November 24, 2014 12:00 AM|Comments: 46


Both Hitler and Himmler had a soft spot for Islam. Hitler several times fantasized that, if the Saracens had not been stopped at the Battle of Tours, Islam would have spread through the European continent—and that would have been a good thing, since “Jewish Christianity” wouldn’t have gone on to poison Europe. Christianity doted on weakness and suffering, while Islam extolled strength, Hitler believed. Himmler in a January 1944 speech called Islam “a practical and attractive religion for soldiers,” with its promise of paradise and beautiful women for brave martyrs after their death. “This is the kind of language a soldier understands,” Himmler gushed.

Surely, the Nazi leaders thought, Muslims would see that the Germans were their blood brothers: loyal, iron-willed, and most important, convinced that Jews were the evil that most plagued the world. “Do you recognize him, the fat, curly-haired Jew who deceives and rules the whole world and who steals the land of the Arabs?” demanded one of the Nazi pamphlets dropped over North Africa (a million copies of it were printed). “The Jew,” the pamphlet explained, was the evil King Dajjal from Islamic tradition, who in the world’s final days was supposed to lead 70,000 Jews from Isfahan in apocalyptic battle against Isa—often identified with Jesus, but according to the Reich Propaganda Ministry none other than Hitler himself. Germany produced reams of leaflets like this one, often quoting the Quran on the subject of Jewish treachery.

It is not surprising, then, that there are those today who draw a direct line between modern Jew-hatred in the Islamic world and the Nazis. A poster currently at Columbus Circle’s subway entrance proclaims loudly that “Jew-hatred is in the Quran.” The poster features a photograph of Hitler with the notoriously anti-Jewish Mufti al-Husaini of Palestine, who is erroneously labeled “the leader of the Muslim world.” The truth is considerably more complex. The mufti made himself useful to the Nazis as a propagandist, but he had little influence in most Muslim regions. Few Muslims believed Nazi claims that Hitler was the protector of Islam, much less the Twelfth Imam, as one Reich pamphlet suggested.

The Nazis’ anti-Jewish propaganda no doubt attracted many Muslims, as historian Jeffrey Herf has documented, but they balked at believing that Hitler would be their savior or liberator. Instead, they sensed correctly that the Nazis wanted Muslims to fight and die for Germany. As Rommel approached Cairo, Egyptians started to get nervous. They knew that the Germans were not coming to liberate them, but instead wanted to make the Muslim world part of their own burgeoning empire. In the end, more Muslims wound up fighting for the Allies than for the Axis.

Hitler’s failed effort to put Muslim boots on the ground still stands as the most far-reaching Western attempt to use Islam to win a war. Such is the judgment of David Motadel, the author of a new, authoritative book, Islam and Nazi Germany’s War. Motadel’s detailed and fascinating explanation of how and why the Nazis failed to get Muslims on their side is a must-read for serious students of World War II, and it has an important message as well for our own policy in the Middle East.

***

To grasp why the Nazis had such high hopes for Muslim collaboration—and why their hopes failed—we need to go back to the great war that made Hitler the fanatical monster he was. One hundred years ago, a few months into World War I, Germany looked like it might be in trouble. The German offensive had failed to break through at Ypres after a month of bloody fighting. The waves of German soldiers stumbling through no-man’s land slowed to a stop. The kaiser’s army was exhausted, and its commanders suddenly realized that the quick Western Front victory they had dreamed of was impossible. Meanwhile, Russia was massing troops around Warsaw, and the tsar had just declared war on the Ottoman Empire.

There was one bright spot, though. On Nov. 11, 1914, the highest religious authority of the Ottoman caliphate, Sheikh al-Islam Ürgüplü Hayri, issued a call for worldwide jihad against Russia, Britain, and France. Suddenly, the Great War was a holy war. Surely, the Germans dreamed, Muslims would join their side en masse and turn the tide of battle.

In the early years of World War I the German Reich caught Islam fever: Muslims became the great Eastern hope against the Entente. Helmuth von Moltke, chief of the German general staff, planned to “awaken the fanaticism of Islam” in the French and British colonies, making the Muslim masses rise up against their European masters. Max von Oppenheim, the German diplomat and orientalist, described Islam as “one of our most important weapons” in his famous position paper of October 1914. Oppenheim wanted to spark a Muslim revolt stretching from India to Morocco that Germany could use for its own purposes. Germany just needed to get the message across, Oppenheim insisted: Russia, Britain, and France were the oppressors of Muslims, whereas the Germans would liberate them.

The German strategy didn’t work. Instead, Britain and France won the game when they capitalized on the Arab uprising against a crumbling Ottoman Empire. T.E. Lawrence, rather than the kaiser, inspired the Arabs. After the war, Britain and France sliced up the Middle East pie between them in the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916.

Germany tried once again to mobilize Islam in WWII. Astonishingly, in 1940 Oppenheim, at that point 80 years old, championed the same plan that had failed so badly in the previous war. Even more surprising, Hitler and Himmler warmly embraced the part-Jewish Oppenheim’s idea: They too thought that Islam would help bring about a Nazi triumph.

“German officials would always refer to global Islam, to pan Islam,” Motadel told me over the phone from his home in Cambridge, England, where he is Research Fellow in History at the University of Cambridge’s Gonville and Caius College. The Nazis spoke of the Muslims as a “bloc” that could be “activated” against the British, the French, and the Soviets. Their belief that Islam was monolithic led them to ignore differences of region, sect, and nationality, which helped to ensure the failure of their efforts.

As Motadel documents, those efforts were indeed considerable. Germans sought out imams who would issue fatwas for their side, and they told their soldiers to be especially careful of religious sensibilities when traveling through Muslim territory. They gave special privileges to Muslims who joined the Wehrmacht: The Nazi leadership even allowed them to follow Muslim dietary laws. Astonishingly, German forces in the East permitted Muslims to practice both circumcision and ritual slaughter, proving more liberal on these two issues than many Europeans are today. At the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, the Germans murdered many Muslims because they were mistaken for Jews: They didn’t realize that Muslims were also circumcised. But Berlin soon corrected the error and cautioned troops in the East to make sure to treat Muslims with respect, since they were Germany’s potential allies. In December 1942 Hitler decided he wanted to recruit all-Muslim units in the Caucasus. He distrusted Georgians and Armenians, but the Muslims, he said, were true soldiers.

The Germans assumed that the Muslim world would naturally flock to the Nazi banner, since Muslims like Germans knew that Jews were the enemy, and since Germany was offering them freedom from France, Britain, and Russia. But for the most part, they were wrong. Muslims only embraced the Nazi cause in places where they were desperate to arm themselves against local persecutors, the Crimea, the Caucasus, and the Balkans. In most of the Muslim world, Hitler failed to attract a large following.

North Africa was a miserable failure for German recruitment. “230,000 Muslims fought for the Free French against the Axis from North Africa,” Motadel pointed out to me in our interview, far more than those who enlisted with Germany. The Germans had their millions of leaflets, but they were not the only propagandists in the field. “The Free French mobilized them with anti-colonial rhetoric. The British and French were the ruling powers; they had much more control over propaganda.”

The East was much more favorable than North Africa to the German recruitment drive. The Muslims of the Caucasus and the Crimea had many reasons to choose Germany over Stalin’s Soviet Union. “In the East the Muslim population had really suffered under Stalin, economically and religiously,” Motadel remarked to me. They had nothing to lose, they thought, by siding with “Adolf Effendi.” The Crimean Tatars took a notorious place among Germany’s most loyal and ruthless battalions, fighting both in the East and, near the end of the war, in Romania. The Tatars made the wrong choice: Stalin mercilessly deported many of them to his gulags after the war.

In the Balkans many Muslims turned to Germany in the middle of a brutal civil war, fleeing the rampages of the Croatian Ustase. The infamous all-Muslim Handžar battalion of the SS, organized in the Balkans late in the war, committed many atrocities. In Serbian areas, noted one British officer, the Handžar “massacres all civil population without mercy or regard for age or sex.”

The Nazis made sure, with few exceptions, that the Nuremberg laws could be applied only to Jews, not to those other Semites, the Arabs, nor to Turks and Persians—which paradoxically allowed certain communities of Jews in Muslim regions to also survive the Shoah. In Crimea, two puzzled officers of the Wehrmacht, Fritz Donner and Ernst Seifert, reported on “Near Eastern racial groups of a non-Semitic character who, strangely, have adopted the Jewish faith,” while also noting that “a large part of these Jews on the Crimea is of Mohammedan faith.” What to do? In the end the Reich ruled that the Karaites, traditionally seen as a Turkic people, could be spared, while the Krymchaks should be murdered as Jews, though both these Crimean tribes followed Jewish law. In the northern Caucasus, the Nazis decided that the Judeo-Tats, a tiny Torah-observant island in a sea of Muslims, had only their religion in common with Jews. In effect, they became honorary Muslims and were saved from death. The Karaites were close to the Muslim Crimean Tatars, and the Judeo-Tats also had deep ties to their Muslim neighbors. It was their supposed affinity to Islam that saved the lives of these observant Jews. In these cases the Nazi wish to cultivate the Muslim world even affected to a small degree their anti-Semitic policy—to the Jews’ advantage.

***

Hitler cultivated many parts of the Muslim world, but he was fanatically enthusiastic about only one country: Turkey (the Nazis officially decided in 1936 that the Turks were Aryans). Stefan Ihrig’s brilliant new book Atatürk in the Nazi Imagination demonstrates convincingly that Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s conquest of Turkey was the most important model for the Nazis’ remaking of Germany, far more so than Mussolini’s 1922 March on Rome, which is usually cited as Hitler’s main inspiration. Turkey had taken control of its destiny in manly fashion, in proud defiance of the international community—if only Germany would do the same! So argued many on the German right, including Hitler, during the 10 years between Atatürk’s victory and the Nazi seizure of power.

The victorious Entente had vastly curtailed Ottoman territory under the Treaty of Sèvres after WWI, just as the Treaty of Versailles shrank German territory. But the new nation of Turkey threw off the victors’ shackles and, after Mustafa Kemal (later renamed Atatürk) marched from Ankara westward, the Turks won the right to a homeland in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne. The Weimar Republic’s newspapers obsessively celebrated the Turks’ victory and endorsed their claims to the disputed region of Hatay (the Turks’ Alsace-Lorraine), portraying the Turks as more advanced than the Germans, trailblazers on the path to strong nationhood. “If we want to be free, then we will have no choice but to follow the Turkish example in one way or another,” the right-wing military man and journalist Hans Tröbst announced in the newspaper Heimatland in 1923. Nearly every item in Hitler’s playbook can be found in such Weimar-era endorsements of Atatürk: All Turkey had mobilized for the war; strong faith in their leader had saved them.

Ihrig argues that the Turkish treatment of minorities, both under Atatürk and earlier, was the true precursor for Hitler’s murderous policy in the East. Those “bloodsuckers and parasites,” the Greeks and Armenians, had been “eradicated” by the Turks, Tröbst explained in Heimatland. “Gentle measures—that history has always shown—will not do in such cases.” The Turks had achieved “the purification of a nation of its foreign elements on a grand scale.” He added that “Almost all of those of foreign background in the area of combat had to die; their number is not put too low with 500,000.” Here was a chilling endorsement of genocide, and one that surely did not escape Hitler’s eye. Shortly after his articles appeared, Hitler invited Tröbst to give a speech on Turkey to the SA.

From 1923 on, Hitler consistently praised Atatürk in his own speeches as well. Berlin, like Istanbul, was cosmopolitan and decadent. Munich, site of Hitler’s beer-hall putsch, was the place for a German “Ankara government.” When Hitler seized power in 1933 his Völkischer Beobachter cited Atatürk’s victory as the “star in the darkness” that had shone for the beleaguered Nazis in 1923, after the putsch’s failure. Turkey was “proof of what a real man could do”—a man like Atatürk, or Hitler.

The Third Reich produced many idolizing biographies of Atatürk. Six years after the Turkish leader’s death, in late 1944, a delusional Hitler was still dreaming of a postwar alliance between Turkey and Germany. He never got his wish. During the war, Turkey, as a neutral power, kept its distance from the Nazis until it finally declared war against Germany in February 1945.

In Turkey, criticizing Atatürk can still get you three years in jail, though the country’s increasingly unhinged President Recep Tayyip Erdogan broke the law himself last year when he called Atatürk a drunkard. While Erdogan wants to reverse his predecessor’s program for secularizing Turkey, he appears to be imitating Atatürk’s extravagant cult of personality along with his habit of demonizing his enemies. But while Atatürk disdained Hitler’s anti-Semitism, Erdogan is obsessed with Jews. The 2014 Gaza operation, he has remarked, was worse than anything Hitler ever did, and the Israelis have been committing “systematic genocide every day” since 1948. Perhaps if Erdogan had been in power in the 1940s, the Nazis would have found the Muslim ally they so desperately sought.

Weaponizing Islam has often been a temptation for the United States, just as it was for Germany. In its battle against Moscow, Washington recruited Islamic leaders after WWII, most famously Said Ramadan, a major figure in the Muslim Brotherhood. The United States even smiled on Saudi Arabia’s funding of radical Islamist organizations, hoping that religion would serve as a bulwark against Soviet Communism. Then the Muslim Brotherhood killed U.S. ally Anwar Sadat, and its follower Ayman al-Zawahiri became, along with Osama Bin Laden, the founder of al-Qaida. We supported the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan, until the Mujahedeen turned into the Taliban.

We are still trying to turn the Muslim world to our own purposes, but this time by supporting Shiite against Sunni. In addition to courting Erdogan, President Barack Obama hopes to make use of Iran as a stabilizing regional force. In his most recent personal letter to Ayatollah Khamanei, Obama seems to have made a promise: We will repeal sanctions, fight against ISIS, and preserve the rule of Iran’s client Bashar al Assad as long as Iran agrees to a deal on nuclear weapons. But what will the United States get in return? In the best-case scenario—which is far from assured—Iran’s bomb-making abilities will be hindered by the deal they sign. But even an Iran without the bomb cannot be relied on to make the Middle East less conflict-riven, unless we are aiming at the kind of stability famously mocked by Tacitus: They make a desert and call it peace. Iranian actions speak for themselves: support for Hezbollah, with its hundred thousand weapons aimed at Israel, and support for Assad, who has massacred his people endlessly and thrown massive numbers of them into concentration camps. Anyone who looks at the Syrian defector “Caesar” ’s photographs of the thousands of starved, mutilated bodies produced by Syria’s bloodthirsty optometrist-in-chief, which are now on permanent exhibition at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, a few blocks from the White House that has refused to grasp their meaning, will ask the same question: Don’t these Arab bodies, resembling so exactly the bodies of Jews at Auschwitz, have the same call on our conscience?

One thing is certain: If Khamanei and Rouhani are given a larger role in the Middle East, they will not serve U.S. interests, nor those of the majority of Muslims. They will serve their own interests, which are inimical to ours. We still have not learned the major lesson of 20th-century history so adeptly conveyed by Motadel and Ihrig: Western leaders who try to get Islam on their side through propaganda and favors will be unpleasantly surprised.

***
106  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Brother to Brother on: November 28, 2014, 04:24:50 PM


https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152314396513715&set=vb.673253714&type=2&theater
107  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Brother to Brother on: November 28, 2014, 04:23:30 PM
https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152314396513715&set=vb.673253714&type=2&theater
108  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: November 28, 2014, 12:15:47 PM
Gents:

I am still waiting for a response to the OLC's arguments justifying the EO.  Right now the Reps are getting maneuvered into supporting breaking up families with American children and illegal alien parents.  With a plausible patina from the OLC (and if we have no telling response that is what will be the case) this becomes yet another case where the Reps are seen as meanies.

All of us here are making good points, but the actual Reps in Congress are bumbling along , , ,
109  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues and LE in action on: November 28, 2014, 12:06:39 PM
Thanks for the testimony URL.  I found Witness #10-- very compelling.

Nice find on the Officer Smith tragedy.
110  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Coulter: Leftists willing to fight to last drop of black blood on: November 27, 2014, 09:41:52 PM
Pasting Coulter's piece here from the Media thread:

Leftists Willing to Fight to the Last Drop of Black Blood

Posted By Ann Coulter On November 27, 2014

The riot in Ferguson reminds me, I hate criminals, but I hate liberals more. They planned this riot. They stoked the fire, lied about the evidence and produced a made-to-order riot.

Every other riot I’ve ever heard of was touched off by some spontaneous event that exploded into mob violence long before any media trucks arrived. This time, the networks gave us a countdown to the riot, as if it were a Super Bowl kickoff.

From the beginning, Officer Darren Wilson’s shooting of Michael Brown wasn’t reported like news. It was reported like a cause.

The media are in a huff about the prosecutor being “biased” because his father was a cop, who was shot and killed by an African-American. What an assh@le!

Evidently, the sum-total of what every idiot on TV knows about the law is Judge Sol Wachtler’s 20-year-old joke that a prosecutor could “indict a ham sandwich.” We’re supposed to be outraged that this prosecutor didn’t indict the ham sandwich of Darren Wilson.

Liberals seem not to understand that they don’t have a divine right to ruin someone’s life and bankrupt him with a criminal trial, just so they’re satisfied.

The reason most grand jury investigations result in an indictment is that most grand juries aren’t convened solely to patronize racial mobs. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon was basically demanding an indictment of Wilson before Big Mike’s body was cold. It was only because of racial politics that this shooting wasn’t dismissed without a grand jury, at all.

Obama says anger is an “understandable reaction” to the grand jury’s finding. Why? And why — as almost everyone is saying — are we supposed to praise the “peaceful protests”?

There’s nothing to protest! A cop shot a thug who was trying to kill him. The grand jury documents make perfectly clear that Big Mike was entirely responsible for his own death. Can’t the peaceful protesters read?

The night of the riot, Obama said the law “often feels as if it is being applied in discriminatory fashion.” Maybe, but not in this case — except toward Officer Wilson.

I know liberals were hoping they had finally found the great white whale of racism, but they’re just going to have to keep plugging away. They might want to come up with a more productive way to spend their time, inasmuch as they’re about 0:100 on white racism sightings.

Anyone following this case has seen the video of Big Mike robbing a store and roughing up an innocent Pakistani clerk about 10 minutes before being shot by Officer Wilson. They’ve seen him flashing Bloods gang signs in photos.

They know Brown’s mother was recently arrested for clubbing grandma with a pipe over T-shirt proceeds. They’ve seen the video of Brown’s ex-con stepfather shouting at a crowd of protesters after the grand jury’s decision: “Burn this bitch down!”

Liberals will say none of that is relevant in court, but apparently they don’t think actual evidence is relevant either. It’s certainly relevant in the court of public opinion that the alleged victims are a cartoonishly lower-class, periodically criminal black family.

TV hosts narrated the riot by saying it showed “the community” feels it’s not being listened to. Only liberals look at blacks looting and say, See what white Americans made them do?

That’s their proof of injustice — look at how blacks are reacting! (While I don’t approve of the looting part, I do approve of the whole throwing-bottles-at-CNN part.)

The looters aren’t the community!

The community doesn’t want black thugs robbing stores and sauntering down the middle of its streets. The community doesn’t want to be assaulted by Big Mike. The community didn’t want its stores burned down.

That community testified in support of Officer Darren Wilson. About a half-dozen black witnesses supported Officer Wilson’s version of what happened. One was a black woman, who saw the shooting from the Canfield Green apartments. Crying on the stand, she said, “I have a child and that could have been my son.”

And yet, she confirmed all crucial parts of Wilson’s account. She said “the child” (292-pound Big Mike) never had his hands up and the cop only fired when “the baby” was coming at him. “Why won’t that boy stop?” she asked her husband.

I always want to know more about the heroic black witnesses. They are put in a position no white person will ever be in and do the right thing by telling the truth — then go into hiding from “the community” being championed by goo-goo liberals.

White people don’t feel any obligation to defend some thug just because he’s white. Only blacks are expected to lie on behalf of criminals of their own race.

But real heroism doesn’t interest liberals. They only ooh-and-ahh over blacks with rap sheets. The only meaningful white racism anymore is the liberal infantilization of black people.
111  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: November 27, 2014, 03:01:33 PM
Not sure if I agree here.  Taking the other side for sake of conversation:

Reps have ducked answering the tough questions here-- which is why and how Baraq is making his play.  Until they confront this fact, things will get vituperative and the Reps usually lose when it comes to that.   

First pass a stern, clear enforcement bill that neuters his BS claims of limited resources and takes away bureaucratic leeway identified by the SCOTUS decisions proffered by the OLC.

Whether he signs or not, the Reps should have the advantage-- yes?
112  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: November 27, 2014, 11:10:48 AM
What of Romney's strategy here to put a good bill on Obama's desk?

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/11/26/Mitt-Romney-Republicans-Should-Swallow-Hard-Pass-Permanent-Amnesty-Bill?utm_source=e_breitbart_com&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Breitbart+News+Roundup%2C+November+27%2C+2014&utm_campaign=20141127_m123307895_Breitbart+News+Roundup%2C+November+27%2C+2014&utm_term=More
113  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Romney swallows amnesty on: November 27, 2014, 11:07:54 AM


http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/11/26/Mitt-Romney-Republicans-Should-Swallow-Hard-Pass-Permanent-Amnesty-Bill?utm_source=e_breitbart_com&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Breitbart+News+Roundup%2C+November+27%2C+2014&utm_campaign=20141127_m123307895_Breitbart+News+Roundup%2C+November+27%2C+2014&utm_term=More
114  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Sometimes you are the predator and sometimes , , , not. on: November 26, 2014, 10:42:06 PM
http://www.sliptalk.com/shark-bait/?utm_source=fb-2&utm_medium=boost&utm_campaign=shark-bait
115  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Ferguson Fraud on: November 26, 2014, 10:37:26 PM
That is a good point GM.


I think this piece well written:  http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/11/ferguson-fraud-113178.html#.VHapHoWwX3R 
116  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The war on the rule of law on: November 26, 2014, 08:28:44 PM
I suspect that will appear in a campaign add or three , , ,

In the meantime, I am still looking for us to bring our collective analysis to the OLC's defense of the EO.
117  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues and LE in action on: November 26, 2014, 08:18:33 PM
Somewhere in here? 

http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1370840-14-43984-care-main.html

Apparently there is no search function.
118  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The war on the rule of law on: November 26, 2014, 02:46:42 PM
Agreed, that is a separate point-- for better or worse, does the OLC offer separate justification for it?

Regardless, I posted previously criticizing the President for not conferring with his OLC.  Though far too late, at last he has and as such the OLC is a definitive voice on his behalf. 

So then, when of the arguments based upon the APA (which which I worked while lawyering in DC back in 1982) and the SCOTUS decisions cited?   And, is the data about funding honestly presented?


If the Reps are going into a big fight over this, they better be able to answer this sort of thing concisely and precisely.


119  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Tippi on: November 26, 2014, 11:07:02 AM
http://www.earthporm.com/breathtaking-photos-little-girl-tippi-growing-alongside-wild-animals
120  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The war on the rule of law on: November 26, 2014, 10:50:05 AM
a) Let's stay on point.  The standard he cites is not FDR, but the APA and SCOTUS decisions.

b) What about this?  "This brings us to the opinion by the Office of Legal Counsel, which notes that because of the mismatch between the number of undocumented aliens (an estimated 11.3 million and the number of removals that annual congressional funding allows (400,000), the Department of Homeland Security has no choice but to establish enforcement priorities."

121  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ridley: Planet getting greener! on: November 26, 2014, 10:47:33 AM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-nsU_DaIZE
122  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Riley: The Other Ferguson Tragedy on: November 26, 2014, 10:32:44 AM


The Other Ferguson Tragedy
Homicide is the leading cause of death among young black men, and 90% of black murder victims are killed by other blacks.
By Jason L. Riley
Nov. 25, 2014 7:21 p.m. ET
544 COMMENTS

We now know that Michael Brown was much more of a menace than a martyr, but that won’t stop liberals from pushing an anti-police narrative that harms the black poor in the name of helping them.

The black teen in Ferguson, Mo., robbed a store, attacked a white police officer and was shot dead while resisting arrest. That was the conclusion of a St. Louis County grand jury that brought no charges against the officer after considering all the physical evidence, along with eyewitness accounts from blacks in the vicinity of the confrontation.

Not that any amount of evidence would have stopped the hooligans in Ferguson Monday night who were determined use Brown’s death as a pretext for more bad behavior. Nor will evidence thwart liberals who are bent on making excuses for black criminality and pretending that police shootings are responsible for America’s high black body count.

According to the FBI, homicide is the leading cause of death among young black men, who are 10 times more likely than their white counterparts to be murdered. And while you’d never know it watching MSNBC, the police are not to blame. Blacks are just 13% of the population but responsible for a majority of all murders in the U.S., and more than 90% of black murder victims are killed by other blacks. Liberals like to point out that most whites are killed by other whites, too. That’s true but beside the point given that the white crime rate is so much lower than the black rate.

Blacks commit violent crimes at 7 to 10 times the rate that whites do. The fact that their victims tend to be of the same race suggests that young black men in the ghetto live in danger of being shot by each other, not cops. Nor is this a function of “over-policing” certain neighborhoods to juice black arrest rates. Research has long shown that the rate at which blacks are arrested is nearly identical to the rate at which crime victims identify blacks as their assailants. The police are in these communities because that’s where the emergency calls originate, and they spend much of their time trying to stop residents of the same race from harming one another.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani pointed this out recently on “Meet the Press” in a debate with sociologist Michael Eric Dyson. “What about the poor black child that is killed by another black child? Why aren’t you protesting that?” Mr. Giuliani asked.

“Those people go to jail,” Mr. Dyson responded. “I do protest it. I’m a minister. They go to jail.”

Mr. Dyson might want to try protesting a little harder. Chicago had 507 murders in 2012, only 26% of which were solved. “To put it another way: About three-quarters of the people who killed someone in Chicago in 2012 have gotten away with murder—so far, at least,” Chicago Magazine noted. Mr. Dyson and others on the left are not oblivious to this black pathology, but they are at pains even to acknowledge it, let alone make it a focus. Instead, liberals spend their time spotlighting white racism, real or imagined, and touting it as an all-purpose explanation for bad black outcomes.

Ferguson helps further that agenda in ways that Chicago does not. Hence, the left posits that the Michael Brown shooting is the norm, even though the data show that it’s the exception. And if black criminal behavior is a response to white racism, how is it that black crime rates were lower in the 1940s and 1950s, when black poverty was higher, racial discrimination was rampant and legal, and the country was more than a half-century away from twice electing a black president?

Racial profiling and tensions between the police and poor black communities are real problems, but these are effects rather than causes, and they can’t be addressed without also addressing the extraordinarily high rates of black criminal behavior—yet such discussion remains taboo. Blacks who bring it up are sell-outs. Whites who mention it are racists. (Mr. Dyson accused Mr. Giuliani of “white supremacy.”) But so long as young black men are responsible for an outsize portion of violent crime, they will be viewed suspiciously by law enforcement and fellow citizens of all races.

Pretending that police behavior is the root of the problem is not only a dodge but also foolish. The riots will succeed in driving business out of town, which means that Ferguson’s residents will be forced to pay more at local stores or travel farther for competitive prices on basic goods and services. Many Ferguson residents today can’t go work because local businesses have been burned down.

Even worse, when you make police targets, you make low-income communities less safe. Ferguson’s problem isn’t white cops or white prosecutors; it’s the thug behavior exhibited by individuals like Michael Brown, which puts a target on the backs of other young black men. Romanticizing such behavior instead of condemning it only makes matters worse.

Mr. Riley is a member of the Journal’s editorial board and the author, most recently, of “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed” (Encounter Books, 2014).
123  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: November 26, 2014, 10:28:02 AM
Mike Huckabee Defies Assumptions About GOP 2016 Field
by Patrick O'Connor
WSJ

   
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has been something of an afterthought in the early coverage of the emerging Republican presidential field.  That might be a little shortsighted, according to the results of a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released last week.  Mr. Huckabee, who defied expectations in 2008 by winning the Iowa caucuses, is viewed more positively by fellow Republicans than nine potential rivals, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

The numbers alone aren’t enough to nudge the former Arkansas governor into the top-tier of Republicans considering a bid, but they do serve as a reminder that many assumptions about the GOP field are dangerously premature. The Republicans generating the most headlines aren’t necessarily the ones who excited GOP primary voters.
More In 2016

    Democrats Pick 3 Finalists for 2016 Convention Host City
    Six GOP Governors on Running for President in 2016
    Hillary Clinton Supporters See an Especially Tight Race in 2016
    GOP's 2016 Hopefuls Walk Tricky Line on Immigration
    Jim Webb Forms Exploratory Committee for 2016 Presidential Bid

Govs. John Kasich of Ohio and Scott Walker of Wisconsin, for example, created plenty of buzz by winning re-election in a pair of Rust Belt swing states, but the poll found that more Republicans know (and like) Ben Carson, the retired pediatric neurosurgeon whose criticism of President Barack Obama and the 2010 health law won a devoted following of conservative activists.

Support for all three is bound to fluctuate once the race gets under way – provided each runs – because half of the country doesn’t know them. In fact, at this point, the emerging field can be divided into three tiers: Republicans most Americans know, Republicans Americans are still getting to know and Republicans Americans are meeting for the first time.

Mr. Huckabee counts himself among the first group. Roughly four-of-five American adults know the former Arkansas governor well enough to form an opinion about him. Overall, 25% viewed him positively, on par with the 24% who viewed him negatively.

These early reviews improve dramatically when opinions are limited to Republicans. Some 52% had a favorable opinion of Mr. Huckabee, who traded his career in elected office for lucrative gigs hosting a nationally syndicated radio show and a weekend talk show on Fox News. Just 8% expressed negative views.

Compare those numbers to Messrs. Bush and Christie, and Mr. Huckabee starts looking even more formidable. One-in-five Republicans view Mr. Christie negatively, about half as many Republicans who view him positively. For Mr. Bush, 12% of Republicans express dim views of the former Florida governor, while 44% view him favorably.

(Mr. Paul has solid support, garnering positive reviews from 48% of self-described Republicans and negative reviews from just 6% of those Republicans polled.)

Almost six years after his surprise victory in Iowa, Mr. Huckabee continues to lead his would-be rivals in most of the early polls of Republicans in the first-in-the-nation caucus state.

Those levels of support are drawing attention to a guy who has been largely out of the spotlight since he first played spoiler in 2008.

“I’m just surprised that his numbers are as strong as they are,” said Peter Hart, a Democratic pollster who helps conduct the Journal poll with Republican Bill McInturff. “That tells you something about the Fox viewership.”

It also begs the broader question: What other surprises are in store heading into a wide-open Republican nominating fight in which an under-the-radar candidate enters the race in a better position than other potential candidates generating more chatter?
124  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: November 26, 2014, 10:21:07 AM
The Race thread on SCH would be a good place for continuing this discussion.
125  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Galston: The Law is with Obama on Immigration on: November 26, 2014, 10:13:17 AM
Well?  Does this have merit?

===================================================

The Law Is With Obama on Immigration
History may judge the president unwise, but he is on firm ground going back to FDR.
By William A. Galston
Nov. 25, 2014 7:42 p.m. ET
76 COMMENTS

Last week I had a visceral sense that President Obama ’s executive order on immigration exceeded his constitutional authority. After days of reading and reflection, I’ve changed my mind. History may judge Mr. Obama’s move to be unwise, but it is not illegal.

To understand the current debate, we must look back to the heyday of the New Deal. Along with expansive legislation, new agencies charged with implementing these laws proliferated during the 1930s. President Franklin D. Roosevelt grew worried, commenting that the ability of these new entities to perform legislative and judicial as well as executive functions “threatens to develop a fourth branch of government for which there is no sanction in the Constitution.”


In 1939, FDR asked Attorney General Frank Murphy to study the matter, and the 1941 report of the committee Murphy led became an important source on which legislators were to draw. Five years later, after what the House Judiciary Committee described as a period of “painstaking and detailed study and drafting,” Congress passed the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), which has served ever since as the legal charter of the modern administrative state.

In general, the APA gives the executive branch wide discretion, especially in creating rules for implementing laws. If Congress establishes clear priorities for enforcing the laws it enacts, the executive branch is obligated to honor them as best it can, consistent with the resources Congress provides for this purpose. When Congress does not establish such priorities or fails to appropriate sufficient resources to implement them, the matter is (in the language of the APA) “committed to agency discretion.”

What happens if the exercise of this discretion leads an agency to refrain from enforcing the law against individuals or classes of individuals subject to the law?

As it happens, the Supreme Court answered this question three decades ago in Heckler v. Chaney, which remains the leading case. In a decision joined by seven other justices, Justice William Rehnquist noted that, “This Court has recognized on several occasions over many years that an agency’s decision not to prosecute or enforce, whether through civil or criminal process, is a decision generally committed to an agency’s absolute discretion.”

There is, Rehnquist concluded, a “general presumption of unreviewability of decisions not to enforce”—unless the statute being administered “quite clearly withdrew discretion from the agency and provided guidelines for the exercise of its enforcement power.” The Heckler court, however, did endorse another standard that could trigger judicial review—namely, cases in which an agency has “consciously and expressly adopted a general policy that is so extreme as to amount to an abdication of its statutory responsibilities.”

Now comes the current controversy over how the Obama administration has chosen to implement the Immigration and Nationality Act. Here again there is a leading case—Arizona v. United States in 2012. Justice Anthony Kennedy observed for the majority that although Congress has specified which aliens may be removed from the U.S. and the procedures for doing so, “A principal feature of the removal system is the broad discretion exercised by immigration officials.”

As a threshold matter, officials must decide “whether it makes sense to pursue removal at all,” an exercise of discretion that may embrace what Justice Kennedy termed “immediate human concerns.” And he offered an example: “Unauthorized workers trying to support their families . . . likely pose less danger than alien smugglers or aliens who commit a serious crime.”

This brings us to the opinion by the Office of Legal Counsel, which notes that because of the mismatch between the number of undocumented aliens (an estimated 11.3 million and the number of removals that annual congressional funding allows (400,000), the Department of Homeland Security has no choice but to establish enforcement priorities. The priorities announced in President Obama’s executive order, the OLC concludes, fall within the DHS’s “lawful discretion to enforce the immigration laws.”

The DHS policy doesn’t violate priorities established by Congress, says the OLC opinion. By establishing high-priority categories, moreover, the DHS does not altogether preclude the removal of aliens in lower priorities if the facts and circumstances warrant. And the DHS action meets the broad Heckler test: It doesn’t amount to an abdication of the DHS’s statutory responsibilities or constitute a rule overriding statutory commands.

President Obama’s decision has made many congressional Republicans very unhappy. They have three choices. They can try to use the power of the purse to prevent the president from carrying out his decision, which could lead to another government shutdown, an outcome that incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has pledged to avert. They can try to take the administration to court, which would have a low probability of success. Or they can try to do what they should have done years ago: Amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to create a better legal regime.

Isn’t it time for our legislators to stop whining and start legislating?
126  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues and LE in action on: November 26, 2014, 10:10:47 AM
Rudy Giuliani recommends the testimony of Witness #10.  Can you find it for us?
127  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / WSJ: O'Grady: Iran, Cuba, Venezuela Nexus on: November 26, 2014, 09:49:10 AM
The Iran-Cuba-Venezuela Nexus
The West underestimates the growing threat from radical Islam in the Americas.
By Mary Anastasia O’Grady
Nov. 23, 2014 5:11 p.m. ET

Oranjestad, Aruba

Regular readers of this column will remember that in July the U.S. asked local officials here to arrest Venezuelan Gen. Hugo Carvajal and to extradite him on suspicion of drug trafficking with Colombian guerrillas. He was detained but the Netherlands stepped in, refused the extradition request and let him go.

The general had been sent here to become Venezuelan consul and spread Bolivarian propaganda. He would have been an important intelligence grab for the U.S. So it wasn’t too surprising that Venezuelan foreign minister Elias Jaua and Cilia Flores, the wife of Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro, celebrated the Dutch decision by meeting his plane when he returned to Caracas.

The third person in the high-level greeting party at the airport—the governor of the state of Aragua, Tareck Zaidan El Aissami Maddah—seemed out of place because he is not in the national government. That is until you consider his résumé: One part master of Middle-Eastern networking, one part honorary Cuban revolutionary, and one part highly ambitious chavista, Mr. El Aissami is a dream come true for Tehran and Havana. That makes him a powerful man in Venezuela.

Tareck El Aissami Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Although President Obama is being lobbied by left-wing activists to change U.S.-Cuba policy before the next Summit of the Americas in Panama in April, his options are limited by laws that require congressional action to change. But one important decision in his hands is whether to remove Cuba from the U.S. State Department list of state sponsors of terrorism. Before the president does that, Americans ought to learn about allegations by a regional security analyst of Cuba-supported work by Mr. El Aissami on behalf of radical Islam.

The West is well aware of the growing presence of Islamic fundamentalism in the Americas, but policy makers may be underestimating the threat. Joseph Humire is a security analyst and co-editor of “Iran’s Strategic Penetration of Latin America,” a book published earlier this year. In an interview in New York last week, Mr. Humire described Iran’s significant progress, over three decades, in setting up operations in the region.

The earliest stages of the process have featured clandestine operatives using mosques to make connections inside Muslim communities and then using those connections to access wealth and gain political prominence. Where these initial forays have been successful, says Mr. Humire, Iran has opened embassies and established commercial agreements that allow operatives to create businesses, which can be used as fronts for covert operations.

In Venezuela and Bolivia, Iran has moved to the next level, developing a military presence through joint ventures in defense industries. In Venezuela, the state of Aragua, where Mr. El Aissami is now governor, is ground zero for this activity.

Havana applauds this Islamic intervention. Since the rise of chavismo, Cuba has supplied intelligence services to Venezuela and its regional allies, notably Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador. Mr. Humire says it has also supplied passport-information technology to allow these countries to process individuals from the Middle East, hand out new documents and maintain the secrecy of true identities. Cuba has used this capacity to exchange information with like-minded nations, including Russia and Iran.

Raised in Venezuela by a Lebanese-born Muslim father and mentored in the “Utopia 78” left-wing student movement at the University of the Andes, he was Venezuela’s interior minister from 2008-12. According to a June 2014 paper from the Washington-based Center for a Secure Free Society, where Mr. Humire is executive director, “regional intelligence officials” believe that Mr. El Aissami’s office used information technology developed by Cuban state security to give some 173 individuals from the Middle East new Venezuelan identities that are extremely difficult to trace.

The paper, “Canada on Guard: Assessing the Immigration Threat of Iran, Venezuela and Cuba,” says that regional intelligence officials believe that “of the more notable persons of interest” who received false papers from Caracas was Suleiman Ghani Abdul Waked, an important member of Lebanese Hezbollah. The same paper, citing interviews with unnamed Latin American intelligence officials, says Mr. El Aissami has built “a criminal-terrorist pipeline bringing militant Islamists into Venezuela and surrounding countries, and sending illicit funds from Latin America to the Middle East.” Mr. Humire told me the Venezuelan government dismissed the report as U.S. propaganda.

Mr. El Aissami’s Aragua state is where Parchin Chemical Industries (PCI) and Qods Aviation, two Iranian military-owned companies, have joint ventures with Venezuela’s military industry, according to “Iran’s Strategic Penetration of Latin America.” PCI is a maker of explosives, ammunition and rocket propellant for missiles. Qods is a maker of unmanned aerial vehicles. Both companies have been sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council under Resolution 1747.

The chapter written by Mr. Humire says Havana is now “trying to clear its debt to Iran” in order to receive economic assistance from Tehran. This aid will doubtless be conditioned on greater Iranian access to nations under Cuban influence, including Venezuela, he says. They will likely turn to Mr. El Aissami for help.
128  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / SNL Skit on: November 25, 2014, 05:12:44 PM


http://www.youtube.com/watch?list=UUqFzWxSCi39LnW1JKFR3efg&v=JUDSeb2zHQ0
129  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / News flash from Norway! Men and women are different! on: November 25, 2014, 04:59:31 PM
http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/a_funny_thing_happened_on_the_way_to_gender_equality_in_norway
130  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Canada: RCMP chastized for Islamist Engagement on: November 25, 2014, 12:21:05 PM
Canadian Watchdog Report Chastises RCMP for Islamist Engagement
by John Rossomando
IPT News
November 24, 2014
http://www.investigativeproject.org/4663/canadian-watchdog-report-chastises-rcmp-for

 
 A new report by Canada's Point de Bascule takes the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to task for participating in a panel discussion Wednesday sponsored by the Muslim Students Association (MSA) at the University of Windsor. RCMP Superintendent Doug Best, who heads the Canadian law-enforcement agency's national security operations in Ontario, will appear alongside two Canadian Islamists.

"The upcoming event in Windsor is the latest example of an increasing and dangerous collaboration between Canada's security agencies and Islamists linked to the Muslim Brotherhood infrastructure," the Point de Bascule report says.

The program, "Violent Radicalization and It Impact on Muslims," also features two speakers with a history of supporting radical Islamists. One of those speakers is Muhammed Robert Heft who recently met with Taliban officials in Qatar in hopes of getting the Taliban to stand against the Islamic State. The other radical Islamist is law professor Faisal Kutty has been a spokesman for two charities accused of al-Qaida ties.

The host organization, MSA, was founded in 1963 by Muslim Brotherhood members at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. It served as the organizational base from which the Islamist movement in North America sprang. A 2007 New York Police Department report found that extremists use MSAs as "forums for the development and recruitment of like-minded individuals."

Numerous individuals with MSA ties have been convicted or charged with terrorism-related offenses.

"However, if we look carefully at the organizations that they support and the goal that they pursue, they are indistinguishable from those defended by violent Islamists," said Marc Lebuis, director of Point de Bascule. "In fact, Islamists waging violent jihad and those waging what they call themselves the "jihad of the tongue" are executing a good cop/bad cop routine in front of our very eyes."

The "jihad of the tongue" involves calling non-believers to Islam, and it can accompany a military or political struggle. Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi contends that this sort of jihad can be waged by "calling others to Islam, highlighting the merits of Islam and preaching in the language of the target audience."
Qaradawi also notes that this "collective jihad of da'awah (Islamic preaching)" precedes military jihad.

The Hamas Charter similarly endorses the jihad of the tongue as a prong of its offensive against Israel and the Jews, Lebuis said.

"Jihad is not confined to the carrying of arms and the confrontation of the enemy. The effective word, the good article, the useful book, support and solidarity - together with the presence of sincere purpose for the hoisting of Allah's banner higher and higher - all these are elements of the Jihad for Allah's sake," Hamas says in Article 30 of its 1988 charter.

Point de Bascule, a non-profit watchdog group that monitors the activities and operations of radical Islamic groups in Canada, warns that if those waging the "jihad of the tongue" on Canada's security infrastructure succeed, it will make the "task of neutralizing violent jihadists almost impossible."

The fruits of this engagement include a 2009 RCMP document "Words Make Worlds" that discourages police officers from using Islamic concepts to describe the Islamist threat. Michel Coulombe, director of Canada's Security Intelligence Service, testified in February that his agency prefers to refer to jihadism as "terrorism inspired by Al-Qaida ideology" rather than invoking Islamic terminology.

It's not a notion that will be challenged by the others on Wednesday's Windsor panel.

Muhammed Robert Heft is a Toronto-based convert imam who has advised the RCMP, Canadian parliamentarians along with U.S. and Australian government agencies counter-terrorism issues. Heft helped create a "Specialized De-Radicalization Intervention Program" modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous to work with radicalized Muslim youth. He also founded P4E Support Group, which states on its website that it exists to "assist Muslims converts."

Heft portrays himself as a moderate; however, his Facebook page raises questions about that. Earlier this month, Heft travelled to Doha, Qatar to meet with Taliban representatives at their "embassy" there.

"Please pray for the success of my mission. I am meeting with the head of the Taliban Embassy in Doha, Qatar and we are working on a treaty that would state clearly that the Taliban (Mujahideen) don't condone vigilante violence, Criminal acts or Terrorism in Non Muslim Countries. They have agreed to take it to Mullah Omar," Heft wrote Oct. 24. "This will hopefully put some doubt as to the legitimacy of ISIS and there(sic) Fatwas about killing indiscriminately."

He said that he had been in communication with the Taliban for the previous six months leading up to his announcement.

Such sentiments ignore the Taliban's history of indiscriminate killing of innocents and its support for Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida both before and since 9/11. Al-Qaida Emir Ayman Al-Zawahiri pledges his loyalty to Mullah Omar.

Canada's government added the Taliban to its list of terrorist organizations in 2013, noting that the terrorist group mostly relies on suicide bombings and improvised-explosive devices to kill indiscriminately.

Heft's Facebook page links to the website of Zakir Naik, a Muslim televangelist banned from entering Canada in 2010.

Naik described Jews as "our staunchest enemy" and endorsed Osama Bin Laden, saying:" If [Osama bin Laden] is fighting the enemies of Islam, I am for him … If he is terrorizing a terrorist, if he is terrorizing America the terrorist, the biggest terrorist, I am with him."

Faisal Kutty, the third panelist at the MSA event, is a Valparaiso University law professor in Indiana..

Kutty served on the board of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Canada office and worked as a spokesman for the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), a radical Saudi funded organization and the Benevolence International Foundation (BIF) – both organizations linked to al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden.

Kutty told journalists that BIF "provides succor for the needy, not help for terrorists" and denied that Benevolence International Foundation had ties to Al-Qaida in October 2001, according to the Point de Bascule report.

The United Nations added BIF to its list of Taliban and al-Qaida supporting entities in November 2002, noting its active support for Bin Laden's activities in Bosnia, Pakistan, China, Chechnya and Russia. Three months later, BIF director Enaam Arnaout entered a plea agreement for diverting charitable donations to jihadists.

Kutty publicly defended WAMY in October 2001, telling a Canadian newspaper it was a "very respected organization" and that people "would be shocked" to hear allegations linking it with al-Qaida. But a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) audit released in 2011 found that WAMY had served as "primary [source] of Al-Qaida financial and fundraising activity" in 1993 and that it "served a critical role in the Arab-Afghan terrorist infrastructure."

Furthermore, in 2003, David Kane, a special agent with U.S. Customs Service, signed an affidavit in which he revealed numerous radical, racist and terrorist activities supported by WAMY, including active support for Hamas' terrorist wing. Kane also cited the fact that WAMY published many books for Muslim youth promoting hatred of Christians and Jews. Kane quoted from one book as follows:

"[T]he seed of the Gulf-war was planted by a Jew; the Jews are enemies of the faithful, God and the angels; The Jews are humanity's enemies; they foment immorality in this world; The Jews are deceitful, they say something but mean the exact opposite; Who was behind the biological crisis which became like brain washing? A Jew; Who was behind the disintegration of family life and values? A Jew; The one that stirred-up hate and turned the individuals against their Muslim governments in the Arab peninsula - a Jew; Who promoted Atheism and made the countries thrive on Muslims' blood? The Jews; Every tragedy that inflicts the Muslims is caused by the Jews."

More recently, Kutty downplayed the role Islam plays in motivating jihadists. In a Nov. 22 column in the Windsor Star, he blamed "mental illness" for jihadist terrorist acts, including that of Parliament Hill shooter Michel Zehaf-Bibeau.

"In fact, a few 'radicals' that I have counselled were diagnosed schizophrenics," Kutty wrote.

The report shows that , the RCMP fallen into the same trap as some U.S. law enforcement agencies in that have established close relations with radical Islamist groups who pretend to be moderate. The danger is that the RCMP legitimizes militant groups and radicals who should be shunned rather than dignified as respected moderate allies of the Canadian government in its war against war against Islamic terrorism.

By embracing Islamic extremists who masquerade as moderates, the RCMP effectively has ostracized genuine Islamic moderates in Canada who deserve recognition for their courage in speaking out against the terrorists.

Read the full Point de Bascule report here.
Related Topics: John Rossomando

131  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Samuel Adams: universally corrupt manners on: November 25, 2014, 12:03:59 PM
"[N]either the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt." --Samuel Adams, essay in The Public Advertiser, 1749
132  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues and LE in action on: November 25, 2014, 12:00:58 PM
Apparently there were 1-2 shots inside the patrol car, which is where MB's hand was shot and blood splatter shows that he moved away and then turned and came back towards the officer for more than 20 feet.
133  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: You guys are so wrong on: November 25, 2014, 11:58:26 AM
Real GDP was Revised to a 3.9% Annual Growth Rate in Q3 To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 11/25/2014

Real GDP was revised to a 3.9% annual growth rate in Q3 from a prior estimate of 3.5%. The consensus had expected a revision to 3.3%.

Inventories, personal consumption, and business equipment investment were revised up, offsetting a downward revision in net exports.

The largest positive contributions to the real GDP growth rate in Q3 were personal consumption, net exports, and government purchases. The only component that was a drag on growth was inventories.

The GDP price index was revised higher to a 1.4% annual growth rate from a prior estimate of 1.3%. Nominal GDP growth – real GDP plus inflation – was revised up to a 5.3% annual rate from a prior estimate of 4.9%.

Implications: The bull market will continue to run. Forget the surprise upward revision to real GDP for a second. The best news in today’s report was that corporate profits grew at an 8.6% annual rate in Q3 and are at a new all-time record high. Ultimately, high profits are why equities are undervalued and today’s data supports further equity gains in the year ahead. The government’s measure of profits fell steeply in Q1, but the sharp rebound in the past couple of quarters suggests the drop was weather-related, just like the temporary drop in real GDP. The economy grew at a 3.9% annual rate in Q3, which is an improvement from the 3.5% rate reported a month ago. In the past year – which includes the weather-related problems in Q1 as well as the rebound – real GDP is up 2.4%. Real GDP is up at a 2.3% annual rate in the past two years, the same exact pace since the recovery started in mid-2009. However, we expect the pace of real GDP growth to pick up for the next couple of years. Nominal GDP (real growth plus inflation) was revised up to a 5.3% annual rate in Q3 from a prior estimate of 4.9%. Nominal GDP is up 4% from a year ago and up at a 3.9% annual rate in the past two years. These figures show the Fed’s target of essentially zero for short-term interest rates is too low and monetary policy is too loose. On the housing front, the national Case-Shiller index, which measures prices across the country, increased 0.7% in September and is up 4.8% from a year ago. The largest gains in the past year have been in Miami, Las Vegas, and San Francisco. The FHFA index, which focuses on homes financed with conforming mortgages, was unchanged in September but up 4.3% versus a year ago. In the year that ended in September 2013, the Case-Shiller was up 10.6% while the FHFA was up 8.3%. In other words, price gains have continued in the past year but at a slower pace. For the year ahead, prices will keep working their way higher but at an even slower pace, more like 3 – 4%. In other news this morning, the Richmond Fed index, a measure of mid-Atlantic manufacturing sentiment, fell to +4 in November from +20 in October. So factory activity is still expanding, just not as quickly.
134  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / "Deferred Illegals" to get free health care in CA on: November 25, 2014, 11:48:50 AM

http://www.capoliticalreview.com/capoliticalnewsandviews/amnestied-illegal-aliens-in-california-to-get-free-healthcare/
135  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: November 24, 2014, 05:07:00 PM
"[T]o preserve the republican form and principles of our Constitution and cleave to the salutary distribution of powers which that [the Constitution] has established ... are the two sheet anchors of our Union. If driven from either, we shall be in danger of foundering." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Judge William Johnson, 1823
136  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: STrategic Reversal: US, Iran, and the Middle East on: November 24, 2014, 05:00:19 PM

Strategic Reversal: The United States, Iran, and the Middle East
Analysis
November 24, 2014 | 1114 Print Text Size
Strategic Reversal: The United States, Iran, and the Middle East

Analysis

Editor's Note: With negotiators reportedly extending the Iranian nuclear talks by seven months — with a basic agreement anticipated by March 1, 2015, and a final, comprehensive pact by July — the talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany will remain a geopolitical focal point in 2015. Stratfor founder and Chairman George Friedman predicted this outcome in Chapter 7 of his 2011 book, The Next Decade. To give our subscribers a more comprehensive look at the geopolitical realities that produced the current state of affairs and that will continue to steer the detente process, Stratfor republishes this chapter in its entirety.

Beyond the special case of Israel, the area between the eastern Mediterranean and the Hindu Kush remains the current focus of U.S. policy. As we've noted, the United States has three principal interests there: to maintain a regional balance of power; to make certain that the flow of oil is not interrupted; and to defeat the Islamist groups centered there that threaten the United States. Any step the United States takes to address any one of these objectives must take into account the other two, which significantly increases the degree of difficulty for achieving even one.

Adding to this challenge is that of maintaining the balance of power in three regions of the area: the Arabs and the Israelis, the Indians and the Pakistanis, and the Iraqis and the Iranians. Each of these balances is in disarray, but the most crucial one, that between the Iranians and the Iraqis, collapsed completely with the disintegration of the Iraqi state and military after the U.S. invasion of 2003. The distortion of the India-Pakistan balance is not far behind, as the war in Afghanistan continues to destabilize Pakistan.

As we saw in the last chapter, the weakness of the Arab side has created a situation in which the Israelis no longer have to concern themselves with their opponents' reactions. In the decades ahead, the Israelis will try to take advantage of this to create new realities on the ground, while the United States, in keeping with its search for strategic balance, will try to limit Israeli moves.

The Indo-Pakistani balance is being destabilized in Afghanistan, a complex war zone where American troops are pursuing two competing goals, at least as stated officially. The first is to prevent al Qaeda from using Afghanistan as a base of operations; the second is to create a stable democratic government. But denying terrorists a haven in Afghanistan achieves little, because groups following al Qaeda's principles (al Qaeda prime, the group built around Osama bin Laden, is no longer fully functioning) can grow anywhere, from Yemen to Cleveland. This is an especially significant factor when the attempt to disrupt al Qaeda requires destabilizing the country, training the incipient Afghanistan army, managing the police force of Afghan recruits, and intruding into Afghan politics. There is no way to effectively stabilize a country in which you have to play such an intrusive role.

Unscrambling this complexity begins with recognizing that the United States has no vital interest in the kind of government Afghanistan develops, and that once again the president cannot allow counter-terrorism to be a primary force in shaping national strategy.

But the more fundamental recognition necessary for ensuring balance over the next ten years is that Afghanistan and Pakistan are in fact one entity, both sharing various ethnic groups and tribes, with the political border between them meaning very little. The combined population of these two countries is over 200 million people, and the United States, with only about 100,000 troops in the region, is never going to be able to impose its will directly and establish order to its liking.

Moreover, the primary strategic issue is not actually Afghanistan but Pakistan, and the truly significant balance of power in the region is actually that between Pakistan and India. Ever since independence, these two countries partitioned from the same portion of the British Empire have maintained uneasy and sometimes violent relations. Both are nuclear powers, and they are obsessed with each other. While India is the stronger, Pakistan has the more defensible terrain, although its heartland is more exposed to India. Still, the two have been kept in static opposition — which is just where the United States wants them.

Obviously, the challenges inherent in maintaining this complex balance over the next ten years are enormous. To the extent that Pakistan disintegrates under U.S. pressure to help fight al Qaeda and to cooperate with U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the standoff with India will fail, leaving India the preeminent power in the region. The war in Afghanistan must inevitably spread to Pakistan, triggering internal struggles that can potentially weaken the Pakistani state. This is not certain, but it is too possible to dismiss. With no significant enemies other than the Chinese, who are sequestered on the other side of the Himalayas, India would be free to use its resources to try to dominate the Indian Ocean basin, and it would very likely increase its navy to do so. A triumphant India would obliterate the balance the United States so greatly desires, and thus the issue of India is actually far more salient than the issues of terrorism or nation-building in Afghanistan.

That is why over the next ten years the primary American strategy in this region must be to help create a strong and viable Pakistan. The most significant step in that direction would be to relieve pressure on Pakistan by ending the war in Afghanistan. The specific ideology of the Pakistani government doesn't really matter, and the United States can't impose its views on Pakistan anyway.

Strengthening Pakistan will not only help restore the balance with India, it will restore Pakistan as a foil for Afghanistan as well. In both these Muslim countries there are many diverging groups and interests, and the United States cannot manage their internal arrangements. It can, however, follow the same strategy that was selected after the fall of the Soviet Union: it can allow the natural balance that existed prior to the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan to return, to the extent possible. The United States can then spend its resources helping to build a strong Pakistani army to hold the situation together.

Jihadist forces in Pakistan and Afghanistan will probably reemerge, but they are just as likely to do so with the United States bogged down in Afghanistan as with the U.S. gone. The war simply has no impact on this dynamic. There is a slight chance that a Pakistani military, with the incentive of U.S. support, might be somewhat more successful in suppressing the terrorists, but this is uncertain and ultimately unimportant. Once again, the key objective going forward is maintaining the Indo-Pakistani balance of power.

As in the case of stepping back from Israel, the president will not be able to express his strategy for dealing with Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India openly. Certainly there will be no way for the United States to appear triumphant, and the Afghan war will be resolved much as Vietnam was, through a negotiated peace agreement that allows the insurgent forces — in this case the Taliban — to take control. A stronger Pakistani army will have no interest in crushing the Taliban but will settle for controlling it. The Pakistani state will survive, which will balance India, thus allowing the United States to focus on other balance points within the region.
The Region's Heartland: Iran and Iraq

The balance of power between Iran and Iraq remained intact until 2003, when the United States invasion destroyed both Iraq's government and army. Since then the primary force that has kept the Iranians in check has been the United States. But the United States has announced that it intends to withdraw its forces from Iraq, which, given the state of the Iraqi government and military, will leave Iran the dominant power in the Persian Gulf. This poses a fundamental challenge both for American strategy and the extremely complex region. Consider the alliances that might occur absent the United States.

Iraq's population is about 30 million. Saudi Arabia's population is about 27 million. The entire Arabian Peninsula's population is about 70 million, but that is divided among multiple nations, particularly between Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The latter has about one third of this population, and is far away from the vulnerable Saudi Arabian oil fields. In contrast, Iran alone has a population of 70 million. Turkey has a population of about 70 million. In the broadest sense, these figures and how these populations combine into potential alliances will define the geopolitical reality of the Persian Gulf region going forward. Saudi Arabia's population — and wealth — combined with Iraq's population can counterbalance either Iran or Turkey, but not both. During the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, it was Saudi Arabia's support for Iraq that led to whatever success that country enjoyed.

While Turkey is a rising power with a large population, it is still a limited power, unable to project its influence as far as the Persian Gulf. It can press Iraq and Iran in the north, diverting their attention from the gulf, but it can't directly intervene to protect the Arabian oil fields. Moreover, the stability of Iraq, such as it is, is very much in Iran's hands. Iran might not be able to impose a pro-Iranian regime in Baghdad, but it has the power to destabilize Baghdad at will.

With Iraq essentially neutralized, its 30 million people fighting each other rather than counterbalancing anyone, Iran is for the first time in centuries free from significant external threat from its neighbors. The Iranian-Turkish border is extremely mountainous, making offensive military operations there difficult. To the north, Iran is buffered from Russian power by Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, and in the northeast by Turkmenistan. To the east lie Afghanistan and Pakistan, both in chaos. If the United States withdraws from Iraq, Iran will be free from an immediate threat from that enormous power as well. Thus Iran is, at least for the time being, in an extraordinary position, secure from overland incursions and free to explore to the southwest.

With Iraq in shambles, the nations of the Arabian Peninsula could not resist Iran even if they acted in concert. Bear in mind that nuclear weapons are not relevant to this reality. Iran would still be the dominant Persian Gulf power even if its nuclear weapons were destroyed. Indeed, a strike solely on Iran's nuclear facilities could prove highly counterproductive, causing Iran to respond in unpleasant ways. While Iran cannot impose its own government on Iraq, it could, if provoked, block any other government from emerging by creating chaos there, even while U.S. forces are still on the ground, trapped in a new round of internal warfare but with a smaller number of troops available.

Iran's ultimate response to a strike on its nuclear facilities would be to try to block the Strait of Hormuz, where about 45 percent of the world's exported seaborne oil flows through a narrow channel. Iran has anti-ship missiles and, more important, mines. If Iran mined the strait and the United States could not clear that waterway to a reasonable degree of confidence, the supply line could be closed. This would cause oil prices to spike dramatically and would certainly abort the global economic recovery.

Any isolated attack on Iran's nuclear facilities — the kind of attack that Israel might undertake by itself — would be self-defeating, making Iran more dangerous than ever. The only way to neutralize those facilities without incurring collateral damage is to attack Iran's naval capability as well, and to use air power to diminish Iran's conventional capability. Such an attack would take months (if it were to target Iran's army), and its effectiveness, like that of all air warfare, is uncertain.

For the United States to achieve its strategic goals in the region, it must find a way to counterbalance Iran without maintaining its current deployment (already reduced to 50,000 troops) in Iraq and without actually increasing the military power devoted to the region. A major air campaign against Iran is not a desirable prospect; nor can the United States count on the reemergence of Iraqi power as a counterweight, because Iran would never allow it. The United States has to withdraw from Iraq in order to manage its other strategic interests. But coupled with this withdrawal, it must think radical thoughts.

In the next decade, the most desirable option with Iran is going to be delivered through a move that now seems inconceivable. It is the option chosen by Roosevelt and Nixon when they faced seemingly impossible strategic situations: the creation of alliances with countries that had previously been regarded as strategic and moral threats. Roosevelt allied the United States with Stalinist Russia, and Nixon aligned with Maoist China, each to block a third power that was seen as more dangerous. In both cases, there was intense ideological rivalry between the new ally and the United States, one that many regarded as extreme and utterly inflexible. Nevertheless, when the United States faced unacceptable alternatives, strategic interest overcame moral revulsion on both sides. The alternative for Roosevelt was a German victory in World War II. For Nixon, it was the Soviets using American weakness caused by the Vietnam War to change the global balance of power.

Conditions on the ground put the United States in a similar position today vis-a-vis Iran. These countries despise each other. Neither can easily destroy the other, and, truth be told, they have some interests in common. In simple terms, the American president, in order to achieve his strategic goals, must seek accommodation with Iran.

The seemingly impossible strategic situation driving the United States to this gesture is, as we've discussed, the need to maintain the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz, and to achieve this at a time when the country must reduce the forces devoted to this part of the world.

The principal reason that Iran might accede to a deal is that it sees the United States as dangerous and unpredictable. Indeed, in less than ten years, Iran has found itself with American troops on both its eastern and western borders. Iran's primary strategic interest is regime survival. It must avoid a crushing U.S. intervention while guaranteeing that Iraq never again becomes a threat. Meanwhile, Iran must increase its authority within the Muslim world against the Sunni Muslims who rival and sometimes threaten it.

In trying to imagine a U.S.-Iranian detente, consider the overlaps in these countries' goals. The United States is in a war against some — but not all — Sunnis, and these Sunnis are also the enemies of Shiite Iran. Iran does not want U.S. troops along its eastern and western borders. (In point of fact, the United States does not want to be there either.) Just as the United States wants to see oil continue to flow freely through Hormuz, Iran wants to profit from that flow, not interrupt it. Finally, the Iranians understand that the United States alone poses the greatest threat to their security: solve the American problem and regime survival is assured. The United States understands, or should, that resurrecting the Iraqi counterweight to Iran is simply not an option in the short term. Unless the United States wants to make a huge, long-term commitment of ground forces in Iraq, which it clearly does not, the obvious solution to its problem in the region is to make an accommodation with Iran.

The major threat that might arise from this strategy of accommodation would be that Iran oversteps its bounds and attempts to occupy the oil-producing countries in the Persian Gulf directly. Given the logistical limitations of the Iranian army, this would be difficult. Also given that it would bring a rapid American intervention, such aggressive action on the part of the Iranians would be pointless and self-defeating. Iran is already the dominant power in the region, and the United States has no need to block indirect Iranian influence over its neighbors. Aspects of Iran's influence would range from financial participation in regional projects to significant influence over OPEC quotas to a degree of influence in the internal policies of the Arabian countries. Merely by showing a modicum of restraint, Iranians could gain unquestioned preeminence, and economic advantage, while seeing their oil find its way to the market. They could also see substantial investment begin to flow into their economy once more.

Even with an understanding with the United States, Iranian domination of the region would have limits. Iran would enjoy a sphere of influence dependent on its alignment with the United States on other issues, which means not crossing any line that would trigger direct U.S. intervention. Over time, the growth of Iranian power within the limits of such clear understandings would benefit both the United States and Iran. Like the arrangements with Stalin and Mao, this U.S.-Iranian alliance would be distasteful yet necessary, but also temporary.

The great losers in this alliance, of course, would be the Sunnis in the Arabian Peninsula, including the House of Saud. Without Iraq, they are incapable of defending themselves, and as long as the oil flows and no single power directly controls the entire region, the United States has no long-term interest in their economic and political well-being. Thus a U.S.-Iranian entente would also redefine the historic relationship of the United States with the Saudis. The Saudis will have to look at the United States as a guarantor of its interests while trying to reach some political accommodation with Iran. The geopolitical dynamic of the Persian Gulf would be transformed for everyone.

The Israelis too would be threatened, although not as much as the Saudis and other principalities on the Persian Gulf. Over the years, Iran's anti-Israeli rhetoric has been extreme, but its actions have been cautious. Iran has played a waiting game, using rhetoric to cover inaction. In the end, the Israelis would be trapped by the American decision. Israel lacks the conventional capability for the kind of extensive air campaign needed to destroy the Iranian nuclear program. Certainly it lacks the military might to shape the geopolitical alignments of the Persian Gulf region. Moreover, an Iran presented with its dream of a secure western border and domination of the Persian Gulf could become quite conciliatory. Compared to such opportunities, Israel for them is a minor, distant, and symbolic issue.

Until now, the Israelis still had the potential option of striking Iran unilaterally, in hopes of generating an Iranian response in the Strait of Hormuz, thereby drawing the United States into the conflict. Should the Americans and Iranians move toward an understanding, Israel would no longer have such sway over U.S. policy. An Israeli strike might trigger an entirely unwelcome American response rather than the chain reaction that Israel once could have hoped for.

The greatest shock of a U.S.-Iranian entente would be political, on both sides. During World War II, the U.S.-Soviet agreement shocked Americans deeply (Soviets less so, because they had already absorbed Stalin's prewar nonaggression pact with Hitler). The Nixon-Mao entente, seen as utterly unthinkable at the time, shocked all sides. Once it happened, however, it turned out to be utterly thinkable, even manageable.

When Roosevelt made his arrangement with Stalin, he was politically vulnerable to his right wing, the more extreme elements of which already regarded him as a socialist favorably inclined to the Soviets. Nixon, as a right-wing opponent of communism, had an easier time. Obama will be in Roosevelt's position, without the overwhelming threat of a comparatively much greater evil — that is, Nazi Germany.

Obama's political standing would be enhanced by an air strike more than by a cynical deal. An accommodation with Iran will be particularly difficult for him because it will be seen as an example of weakness rather than of ruthlessness and cunning. Iranian president Ahmadinejad will have a much easier time selling such an arrangement to his people. But set against the options — a nuclear Iran, extended air strikes with all attendant consequences, the long-term, multidivisional, highly undesirable presence of American forces in Iraq — this alliance seems perfectly reasonable.

Nixon and China showed that major diplomatic shifts can take place quite suddenly. There is often a long period of back-channel negotiations, followed by a breakthrough driven either by changing circumstances or by skillful negotiations.

The current president will need considerable political craft to position the alliance as an aid to the war on al Qaeda, making it clear that Shiite-dominated Iran is as hostile to the Sunnis as it is to Americans. He will be opposed by two powerful lobbies in this, the Saudis and the Israelis. Israel will be outraged by the maneuver, but the Saudis will be terrified, which is one of the maneuver's great advantages, increasing American traction over its policies. The Israelis can in many ways be handled more easily, simply because the Israeli military and intelligence services have long seen the Iranians as occasional allies against Arab threats, even as the Iranians were supporting Hezbollah against Israel. They have had a complex relationship over the last thirty years. The Saudis will condemn this move, but the pressure it places on the Arab world would be attractive to Israel. Even so, the American Jewish community is not as sophisticated or cynical as Israel in these matters, and its members will be vocal. Even more difficult to manage will be the Saudi lobby, backed as it is by American companies that do business in the kingdom.

There will be several advantages to the United States. First, without fundamentally threatening Israeli interests, the move will demonstrate that the United States is not controlled by Israel. Second, it will put a generally unpopular country, Saudi Arabia — a state that has been accustomed to having its way in Washington — on notice that the United States has other options. For their part, the Saudis have nowhere to go, and they will cling to whatever guarantees the United States provides them in the face of an American-Iranian entente.

Recalling thirty years of hostilities with Iran, the American public will be outraged. The president will have to frame his maneuver by offering rhetoric about protecting the homeland against the greater threat. He will of course use China as an example of successful reconciliation with the irreconcilable.

The president will have to deal with the swirling public battles of foreign lobbies and make the case for the entente. But he will ultimately have to maintain his moral bearings, remembering that in the end, Iran is not America's friend any more than Stalin and Mao were.

If ever there was a need for secret understandings secretly arrived at, this is it, and much of this arrangement will remain unspoken. Neither country will want to incur the internal political damage from excessive public meetings and handshakes. But in the end, the United States needs to exit from the trap it is in, and Iran has to avoid a real confrontation with the United States.

Iran is an inherently defensive country. It is not strong enough to be either the foundation of American policy in the region or the real long-term issue. Its population is concentrated in the mountains that ring its borders, while much of the center of the country is minimally or completely uninhabitable. Iran can project power under certain special conditions, such as those that obtain at the moment, but in the long run it is either a victim of outside powers or isolated.

An alliance with the United States will temporarily give Iran the upper hand in relations with the Arabs, but within a matter of years the United States will have to reassert a balance of power. Pakistan is unable to extend its influence westward. Israel is much too small and distant to counterbalance Iran. The Arabian Peninsula is too fragmented, and the duplicity of the United States in encouraging it to increase its arms is too obvious to be an alternative counterweight. A more realistic alternative is to encourage Russia to extend its influence to the Iranian border. This might happen anyway, but as we will see, that would produce major problems elsewhere.

The only country capable of being a counterbalance to Iran and a potential long-term power in the region is Turkey, and it will achieve that status within the next ten years regardless of what the United States does. Turkey has the seventeenth largest economy in the world and the largest in the Middle East. It has the strongest army in the region and, aside from the Russians and possibly the British, probably the strongest army in Europe. Like most countries in the Muslim world, it is currently divided between secularists and Islamists within its own borders. But their struggle is far more restrained than what is going on in other parts of the Muslim world.

Iranian domination of the Arabian Peninsula is not in Turkey's interest because Turkey has its own appetite for the region's oil, reducing its dependency on Russian oil. Also, Turkey does not want Iran to become more powerful than itself. And while Iran has a small Kurdish population, southeastern Turkey is home to an extremely large number of Kurds, a fact that Iran can exploit. Regional and global powers have been using support for the Kurds to put pressure on or destabilize Iraq, Turkey, and Iran. It is an old game and a constant vulnerability.

In the course of the next decade the Iranians will have to divert major resources in order to deal with Turkey. Meanwhile, the Arab world will be looking for a champion against Shiite Iran, and despite the bitter history of Turkish power in the Arab world during the Ottoman Empire, Sunni Turkey is the best bet.

In the next ten years, the United States must make certain that Turkey does not become hostile to American interests and that Iran and Turkey do not form an alliance for the domination and division of the Arab world. The more Turkey and Iran fear the United States, the greater the likelihood that this will happen. The Iranians will be assuaged in the short run by their entente with the Americans, but they will be fully aware that this is an alliance of convenience, not a long-term friendship. It is the Turks who are open to a longer-term alignment with the United States, and Turkey can be valuable to the United States in other places, particularly in the Balkans and the Caucasus, where it serves as a block to Russian aspirations.

As long as the United States maintains the basic terms of its agreement with Iran, Iran will represent a threat to Turkey. Whatever the inclinations of the Turks, they will have to protect themselves, and to do that, they must work to undermine Iranian power in the Arabian Peninsula and the Arab countries to the north of the peninsula — Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. They will engage in this not only to limit Iran but also to improve their access to the oil to their south, both because they will need that oil and because they will want to profit from it.

As Turkey and Iran compete in the next decade, Israel and Pakistan will be concerned with local balances of power. In the long run, Turkey cannot be contained by Iran. Turkey is by far the more dynamic country economically, and therefore it can support a more sophisticated military. More important, whereas Iran has geographically limited regional options, Turkey reaches into the Caucasus, the Balkans, Central Asia, and ultimately the Mediterranean and North Africa, which provides opportunities and allies denied the Iranians. Iran has never been a significant naval power since antiquity, and because of the location of its ports, it can never really be one in the future. Turkey, in contrast, has frequently been the dominant power in the Mediterranean and will be so again. Over the next decade we will see the beginning of Turkey's rise to dominance in the region. It is interesting to note that while we can't think of the century without Turkey playing an extremely important role, this decade will be one of preparation. Turkey will have to come to terms with its domestic conflicts and grow its economy. The cautious foreign policy Turkey has followed recently will continue. It is not going to plunge into conflicts and therefore will influence but not define the region. The United States must take a long-term view of Turkey and avoid pressure that could undermine its development.

As a solution to the complex problems of the Middle East, the American president must choose a temporary understanding with Iran that gives Iran what it wants, that gives the United States room to withdraw, and that is also a foundation for the relationship of mutual hostility to the Sunni fundamentalists. In other words, the president must put the Arabian Peninsula inside the Iranians' sphere of influence while limiting their direct controls, and while putting the Saudis, among others, at an enormous disadvantage.

This strategy would confront the reality of Iranian power and try to shape it. Whether it is shaped or not, the longer-term solution to the balance of power in the region will be the rise of Turkey. A powerful Turkey would counterbalance Iran and Israel, while stabilizing the Arabian Peninsula. In due course the Turks will begin to react by challenging the Iranians, and thus the central balance of power will be resurrected, stabilizing the region. This will create a new regional balance of power. But that is not for this decade.

I am arguing that this is a preferred policy option given the circumstances. But I am also arguing that this is the most logical outcome. The alternatives are unacceptable to both sides; there is too much risk. And when the alternatives are undesirable, what remains — however preposterous it appears — is the most likely outcome.

To see how that would affect wider circles of power and their balance, we turn to the next concern, the balance between Europe and Russia.

Excerpt from the book, The Next Decade, by George Friedman, published by Doubleday, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc. Reprinted with permission.

Read more: Strategic Reversal: The United States, Iran, and the Middle East | Stratfor
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137  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Mexico's normalista protests threaten to spread on: November 24, 2014, 04:43:35 PM
Summary

Violent protests calling for the return of 43 students missing from Iguala, in Guerrero state, and criticizing the government's perceived insensitivity and mismanagement of the case will continue in Guerrero and in other parts of Mexico. Though the demonstrations do not pose an immediate threat to the central government, they could undermine local governments and the federal government's authority at the local level.

The federal government's reach is particularly weak in Mexico's southwest. There are large geographic areas in several states in the region where communities enjoy partial autonomy, making it easier for citizens to challenge federal authority altogether. The unrest in Guerrero is fostered by feeble state and municipal institutions, which, in a cyclical process, become impaired even further with each additional bout of disorder. Mexico City fears it could lose all authority in the region except for military and federal police operations. While this fear is valid, it is unlikely that such a high degree of unrest would spread to the capital unless organizers achieve a massive increase in coordination and in civil participation.
Analysis

On Nov. 10, demonstrators in Acapulco overpowered federal riot police and overran the airport, blocking all of its entrances. On Nov. 12, students from Mexico's traditionally left-wing rural teaching colleges — known as normalistas — blocked the entrance to the international airport in Morelia, forcing those already inside to use the building's back door. Soon after, students in Mexico City announced that they would hold even more protests Nov. 20 to support the missing normalistas.

Large demonstrations linked to the missing normalistas have taken place all over the country, but the most violent protests have been focused in the southwestern states, including Michoacan, Guerrero, Oaxaca and Chiapas. Unrest in the southwestern region has shown little sign of abating, posing a considerable threat to state and municipal governments in the area. Protesters have repeatedly torched government buildings throughout the southwest region to demonstrate against what they see as an ineffective and corrupt government. They say Mexico's judicial system and its security forces, especially at the local level, have struggled to implement democratic reforms after being shaped by 70 years of semi-authoritarian rule.
Protests Could Spread

For now, coordination between organizers in southwestern states and those in Mexico City and in other parts of the country has been limited, but that could change. Demonstrators from the southwest — affiliated with the normalistas and teachers' unions — have organized three groups of protesters to tour the country and converge on Mexico City for Nov. 20 protests. If the normalista and teachers' groups are able to cooperate with the Mexico City organizers and significantly escalate the demonstrations, the Mexican government will find it difficult to manage prolonged unrest in multiple areas using non-violent means. However, the different tactics and approaches employed by the organizers may make such cooperation difficult.
Mexico's Normalista Protest Threaten to Spread
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Protests in Mexico City have differed in character and intensity from those in the southwest. The demonstrations in Mexico City have been organized and carried out primarily by student groups from various universities in the city. Though these protests have attracted by far the most participants of any normalista-linked demonstrations outside of Guerrero, they have mostly been peaceful, with the exception of a few incidents. In contrast to the demonstrations in the southwest, it is clear that most of the protesters in Mexico City do not condone violence or vandalism and that a radical minority is responsible for the violence that has occurred in the city. In fact, on Nov. 8, demonstrators stopped masked individuals attempting to vandalize the exterior of the attorney general's headquarters in Mexico City.

The Mexican government is intentionally being light-handed in its dealings with protesters, and authorities released all but one of the activists arrested for vandalizing the attorney general's offices. With the arrival of protesters from the southwest in Mexico City, however, officials will be on high alert for violent tactics mirroring those used in the southwest.

Mexico City is well equipped to deal with large demonstrations, which are a regular occurrence in the city, and the government is well aware that violently repressing them will only exacerbate tensions and add impetus to the protests. Thus, Mexico City is working to avoid confrontation at all costs. The violent repression of the infamous Tlatelolco protests in 1968 is still fresh in the minds of Mexicans, especially those in the capital city, and the irony that the missing normalistas were raising funds to attend a demonstration commemorating the anniversary of the massacre is not lost on the public.
Is Guerrero the Next Michoacan?

Despite President Enrique Pena Nieto's efforts to surmount the country's security problems through economic reforms and increased coordination of security forces, the federal government is struggling to maintain its authority. Mexico is seeing rising unrest among an increasingly disillusioned population, especially in southwestern states. The emergence of autodefensas, or civilian militias, in Michoacan is the most extreme recent example of such a challenge to the federal government. Although the Mexican government has contained that movement — partly by incorporating the groups into the state apparatus — the resulting tenuous security environment requires continued intervention by the federal government and adds to the general unrest in the region.

The primary participants in the Guerrero demonstrations have been Guerrero state normalistas and members of a local teachers' union. The two groups likely have organizational ties and have been aligned in their protests against a 2013 federal education reform, making them natural partners in the current round of protests. The groups have proven themselves capable of coordinating large demonstrations and clearly intend to draw further attention to their cause by creating as much disruption to state governance and daily life as possible. So far, their only demands are the return of the missing normalistas and justice for the students and their families. However, the organizers could angle for negotiations with state and federal leaders in the future to increase their influence in regional politics.
Mexico's Geographic Challenge

Overt challenges to government authority in the southwestern states will give rise to a number of economic and security issues, and Mexico City will attempt to defuse the situation by arresting cartel leaders and local politicians in Iguala. The mayor and his wife are charged with masterminding the disappearances. Both are currently in federal custody, but the city's police chief, also allegedly involved, is still on the run. The federal government has been unusually open about the existence of collusion between local officials and criminal elements in this case, and it must make a convincing effort to rid the state of corrupt politicians and establish alternative rule to prevent the rise of armed civilian groups. To this end, the government will expand military and federal police operations in the southwest, but this expansion of security operations can only be maintained for a limited time before Mexico City must resort to alternative tactics.

Although protests are likely to continue in the coming weeks, the demonstrations are unlikely to pose an existential threat to Mexico City's government. However, the pressure on the central government could mount significantly if protesters in Mexico City and the southwest are able to coordinate their organizing efforts and garner increased public participation.

Throughout the country, the federal government must balance its security measures to create the impression that it is in control, but without cracking down on citizens in a way that would invite accusations of authoritarianism. If the security response in Guerrero is too weak, armed citizen groups could emerge to fill the void. However, if the response is too strong, it will add to discontent and encourage additional protests. There will be more high-profile arrests in connection to the students' disappearances, and reforms to local governments and security forces will also be made. The key factor to watch will be any coordination between organizing groups during the Nov. 20 protests. Such cooperation could signal a significant shift in tactics and incite a different response from the government.

Read more: Mexico's Normalista Protests Threaten to Spread | Stratfor
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138  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / George Friedman: Obama and the nature of failed presidencies on: November 24, 2014, 04:40:30 PM

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On Obama and the Nature of Failed Presidencies
Geopolitical Weekly
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 - 03:01 Print Text Size
Stratfor

By George Friedman

We do not normally comment on domestic political affairs unless they affect international affairs. However, it is necessary to consider American political affairs because they are likely to have a particular effect on international relations. We have now entered the final phase of Barack Obama's presidency, and like those of several other presidents since World War II, it is ending in what we call a state of failure. This is not a judgment on his presidency so much as on the political configuration within it and surrounding it.

The midterm elections are over, and Congress and the president are in gridlock. This in itself is not significant; presidents as popular as Dwight Eisenhower found themselves in this condition. The problem occurs when there is not only an institutional split but also a shift in underlying public opinion against the president. There are many more sophisticated analyses of public opinion on politics, but I have found it useful to use this predictive model.
Analyzing a President's Strength

I assume that underneath all of the churning, about 40 percent of the electorate is committed to each party. Twenty percent is uncommitted, with half of those being indifferent to the outcome of politics and the other half being genuinely interested and undecided. In most normal conditions, the real battle between the parties — and by presidents — is to hold their own bases and take as much of the center as possible.

So long as a president is fighting for the center, his ability to govern remains intact. Thus, it is normal for a president to have a popularity rating that is less than 60 percent but more than 40 percent. When a president's popularity rating falls substantially below 40 percent and remains there for an extended period of time, the dynamics of politics shift. The president is no longer battling for the center but is fighting to hold on to his own supporters — and he is failing to do so.

When the president's support has fragmented to the point that he is fighting to recover his base, I considered that a failed presidency — particularly when Congress is in the hands of the opposition. His energy cannot be directed toward new initiatives. It is directed toward recovering his base. And presidents who have fallen into this condition near the end of their presidencies have not been likely to recover and regain the center.

Historically, when the president's popularity rating has dipped to about 37 percent, his position has been unrecoverable. This is what happened to George W. Bush in 2006. It happened to Richard Nixon in 1974 when the Watergate crisis resulted in his resignation, and to Lyndon Johnson in 1967 during the Vietnam War. It also happened to Harry Truman in 1951, primarily because of the Korean War, and to Herbert Hoover before World War II because of the Great Depression.

However, this is not the final historical note on a presidency. Truman, enormously unpopular and unable to run for another term, is now widely regarded as one of the finest presidents the United States has had. Nixon, on the other hand, has never recovered. This is not therefore a judgment on Obama's place in history, but simply on his current political condition. Nor does it take failure to lose the presidency; Jimmy Carter was defeated even though his popularity remained well in the 40s.
Obama's Presidency

Of the five failed presidencies I've cited, one failed over scandal, one over the economy and three over wars — Korea, Vietnam and Iraq. Obama's case is less clear than any. The 40 percent who gravitated to the opposition opposed him for a host of reasons. He lost the center for complex reasons as well. However, looking at the timing of his decline, the only intruding event that might have had that impact was the rise of the Islamic State and a sense, even in his own party, that he did not have an effective response to it. Historically, extended wars that the president did not appear to have a strategy for fighting have been devastating to the presidency. Woodrow Wilson's war (World War I) was short and successful. Franklin Roosevelt's war (World War II) was longer, and although it began in failure it became clear that a successful end was conceivable. The Korean, Vietnam and two Iraq wars suffered not from the length, but from the sense that the presidency did not have a war-ending strategy. Obama appears to me to have fallen into the political abyss because after six years he owned the war and appeared to have no grip on it.

Failure extends to domestic policy as well. The Republican-controlled legislature can pass whatever legislation it likes, but the president retains veto power, and two-thirds of both houses must vote to override. The problem is that given the president's lack of popularity — and the fact that the presidency, all of the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate will be up for re-election in two years — the president's allies in Congress are not as willing to be held responsible for upholding his vetoes. Just as few Democrats wanted Obama campaigning for them, so too do few want to join the president in vetoing majority legislation. What broke Truman, Johnson and Nixon was the moment it became clear that their party's leaders in Congress wanted them gone.
Acting Within Constraints

This does not mean that the president can't act. It simply means that it is enormously more difficult to act than before. Gerald Ford, replacing Nixon but weakened by the pardoning of his predecessor, could not stop Congress from cutting off aid to South Vietnam during the final Communist assault. George W. Bush was able to launch the surge, but the surge was limited in size, not only because of strategic conditions but also because he had lost the ability to force Congress to fund alternative expansions of the war. In each of the failed presidencies, the president retained the ability to act but was constrained by the twin threats of an opposition-controlled Congress and his own party's unwillingness to align with him.

At the same time, certain foreign diplomatic initiatives can continue. Nixon initiated negotiations between Egypt and Israel that culminated, under Carter's administration, in the Camp David Accords. Truman tried to open negotiations with China, and the initiative's failure had little to do with opposition to a negotiated settlement in Korea.

The president has few domestic options. Whatever Obama does with his power domestically, Congress can vote to cut funding, and if the act is vetoed, the president puts Congressional Democrats in mortal danger. The place where he can act — and this is likely the place Obama is least comfortable acting — is in foreign policy. There, the limited deployment of troops and diplomatic initiatives are possible.

Obama's general strategy is to withdraw from existing conflicts in the Middle East and contain and limit Russian actions in Ukraine. The president has the ability to bring military and other pressure to bear. But the United States' opponent is aware that the sitting president is no longer in control of Washington, that he has a specific date of termination and that the more unpopular things he does, the more likely his successor is to repudiate them. Therefore, in the China-North Korea model, the assumption is that that continuing the conflict and negotiating with the successor president is rational. In the same sense, Iran chose to wait for the election of Ronald Reagan rather than deal with Jimmy Carter (who was not a failed president).

This model depends on the opponent's having the resources and the political will to continue the conflict in order to bargain with the president's successor, and assumes that the successor will be more malleable. This is frequently the result, since the successor can make concessions more readily than his predecessor. In fact, he can make those concessions and gain points by blaming the need to concede on his predecessor. Ironically, Obama used this strategy after replacing George W. Bush. The failed president frequently tries to entice negotiation by increasing the military pressure on the enemy. Truman, Johnson and George W. Bush all took this path while seeking to end their wars. In no case did it work, but they had little to lose politically by trying.

Therefore, if we follow historical patterns, Obama will now proceed slowly and ineffectively to increase military operations in Syria and Iraq, while raising non-military pressure on Russia, or potentially initiating some low-level military activities in Ukraine. The actions will be designed to achieve a rapid negotiating process that will not happen. The presidency will shift to the other party, as it did with Truman, Johnson and George W. Bush. Thus, if patterns hold true, the Republicans will retake the presidency. This is not a pattern unknown to Congress, which means that the Democrats in the legislature will focus on running their own campaigns as far away from Obama and the next Democratic presidential candidate as possible.

The period of a failed presidency is therefore not a quiet time. The president is actively trying to save his legacy in the face of enormous domestic weakness. Other countries, particularly adversaries, see little reason to make concessions to failed presidents, preferring to deal with the next president instead. These adversaries then use military and political oppositions abroad to help shape the next U.S. presidential campaign in directions that are in their interests.

It is against this backdrop that all domestic activities take place. The president retains the veto, and if the president is careful he will be able to sustain it. Obama will engage in limited domestic politics, under heavy pressure from Congressional Democrats, confining himself to one or two things. His major activity will be coping with Syria, Iraq and Russia, both because of crises and the desire for a legacy. The last two years of a failed presidency are mostly about foreign policy and are not very pleasant to watch.

Read more: On Obama and the Nature of Failed Presidencies | Stratfor
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139  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Baraq is damaging Hillary's chances on: November 24, 2014, 04:23:01 PM

WSJ
Obama Is Damaging Hillary’s Chances
Mrs. Clinton’s popularity has plunged, and she is increasingly trapped by her former boss’s record.
By Douglas E. Schoen and Patrick H. Caddell
Nov. 23, 2014 5:00 p.m. ET


President Obama ’s high-risk immigration gamble may have severe consequences for Washington, the country and the Democratic Party, most of all Hillary Clinton .

Mrs. Clinton’s putative bid for the Democratic presidential nomination is already running into trouble. The national exit poll from the recently completed midterm elections showed her with less than a majority of voters (43%) saying she would make a good president. When pitted against an unnamed Republican candidate, Mrs. Clinton lost 40% to 34%.

Those grim numbers followed on a September WSJ/NBC poll showing a plunge in Mrs. Clinton’s favorability rating, to 43%, from 59% in 2009.

And that was before President Obama launched a defiant post-midterm campaign discarding political compromise and unilaterally doubling down on his unpopular policies. As a candidate, Mrs. Clinton would likely inherit a damaged party—and as a former member of his administration, she would struggle with the consequences of Mr. Obama’s go-it-alone governance.

The latest indication of the president’s politically damaging approach was his move on Thursday to unilaterally grant amnesty to an estimated five million illegal immigrants. A Rasmussen poll released Nov. 18 found that 53% of likely voters opposed the amnesty without congressional approval, while 34% approved. Moreover, 62% of those polled said that the president lacks the legal authority to take the action without congressional approval, and 55% said Congress should challenge the executive order in court.

That’s a problem for Democrats, who will be asked to defend the president, as they have had to do with other Obama policies, like the Affordable Care Act, that lack the support of most Americans.

Another source of trouble for Democrats: The proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which is enormously popular—59% of Americans are in favor, 31% against, according to a Pew poll this month. With the project so heavily favored, the president could score an easy win by backing the pipeline, but instead he has aligned himself with the elitist, environmentalist left led by billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer.

Mr. Obama’s willingness to disregard the public’s wishes will hurt Mrs. Clinton in particular. The president’s former secretary of state is already struggling to forge an independent identity without disowning the president. It will be almost impossible for Mrs. Clinton to directly oppose him over the next two years, though she will certainly continue to try to distance herself from Mr. Obama, as she did during her summer book tour. But if the president continues to lose the support of Democrats and moderates—as Mrs. Clinton has—she might have no alternative but to shelve her presidential ambitions.

If she does run, Mrs. Clinton could face a challenge from liberal populist Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Mrs. Clinton has struggled to adopt a populist mantle. The challenge was nowhere more in evidence than when she appeared in Massachusetts with Ms. Warren in October, awkwardly urging the crowd: “Don’t let anybody tell you that, you know, it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs.” She later explained that the line hadn’t come out right.

Mrs. Clinton will have to work harder than that to dispel the impression among liberal Democrats that she is, as the line goes, the “candidate from Goldman Sachs , ” having numerous ties to the institution. The threat to a Clinton campaign from a Democratic rival running to her left, as Mr. Obama did in 2008, increased last week when populist former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb announced he is setting up an exploratory committee for a 2016 presidential bid.

Mrs. Clinton will also have to contend with her role as the architect of “HillaryCare” in the 1990s, a clear forerunner to the Affordable Care Act, which was not popular with Americans when it was passed and now has the approval of only 37%, according to a recent Gallup poll.

It appears that Mrs. Clinton is trying to have it both ways on immigration by supporting President Obama but saying that the only lasting solution is congressional action. And on Keystone, she has been missing in action.

And if that weren’t enough, foreign policy—which should be a selling point for the former secretary of state—will be a minefield. The president seemingly has no coherent strategy to deal with Islamic State terrorists in Iraq and Syria, no coherent strategy for dealing with Russian President Vladimir Putin ’s bellicosity in Eastern Europe, and no coherent strategy for dealing with the Iranian nuclear program. Regardless of whatever news emerges from the Nov. 24 deadline for a nuclear deal with Iran, this story will drag on for ages, as the mullahs would prefer.

All of these foreign-policy dead zones have roots in Mrs. Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, when she logged hundreds of thousands of miles without alighting on any significant successes. The Republican takeover of the Senate may bring fresh attention to her role in the deadly debacle in Benghazi, Libya, with victims that included U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

With President Obama now courting a constitutional crisis over his unilateral action on immigration reform, the Democratic Party is losing popularity by the day. The pressure is on Mrs. Clinton to separate herself from the partisan polarization and dysfunction in Washington while not alienating the liberal Democrats who dominate turnout in presidential primaries. She needs to distance herself from Mr. Obama without alienating his strongest supporters, but she also needs to develop a clear reason and logic for why she should be elected president—a logic that six years after she first declared her candidacy remains more elusive than ever.

Barack Obama could end up beating Hillary Clinton yet again.

Mr. Schoen, who served as a pollster for President Bill Clinton, is the author, with Melik Kaylan, of “The Russia-China Axis: The New Cold War and America’s Crisis of Leadership” (Encounter Books, 2014). Mr. Caddell served as a pollster for President Jimmy Carter .
140  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: November 24, 2014, 04:18:48 PM
The Cognitive Dissonace thread now has 200,000 reads!  Well done gentlemen!

PS:  Political Rants is closing in on 300,000  cool
141  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Proposed Solution on: November 24, 2014, 04:09:31 PM
second post

http://www.dailynews.com/20100522/doug-mcintyre-ten-steps-to-solve-the-immigration-problem
142  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Strassel: The Next Prez and the Obama Way on: November 24, 2014, 04:03:08 PM
The Next Prez and the Obama Way
Prosecutorial discretion? OK, how about not enforcing the 73,954 pages of tax code?
By Kimberley A. Strassel
Nov. 20, 2014 7:00 p.m. ET
Getty Images
Date: Jan. 21, 2017
To: POTUS
From: Your loyal and determined GOP advisers
Re: Your First 100 Days.

Hey Boss!

Congrats again (and fab party last night). Eight long years, and a Republican is finally back behind the Resolute desk. Pity about the Senate; Harry Reid is already vowing to shut the place down again. We put your chances of getting your agenda through that chamber in the range of slim to snowball.

But we’ve been thinking. Yes, the Constitution matters—Article I, Article II, blah, blah—though let’s be honest: What really counts in this town is precedent. And the ace news is that your predecessor blew up about 230 years of it. We’ve attached an 87-page list (check your spam box) of President Obama ’s unilateral actions: altering the ObamaCare statute; refusing to enforce federal drug laws; granting waivers to education reforms; using Justice Department suits to impose new industry rules; drafting agency regulations to go around Congress. Don’t forget 2014, when he rewrote federal immigration law. Like, all of it. By himself.

And here’s where it gets sweet. We’ve been analyzing the Obama team’s justifications. Some are p-r-e-t-t-y creative, but they boil down to this: Whenever a law is “unworkable,” or inadequately “funded”—and Congress won’t do anything—the president gets to act! How is that for new precedent? Think about it. This city has yet to produce a single statute or reg that is “workable” or that has, according to Democrats, enough money. Not a one. Remember that old Imagine Dragons tune, “I’m On Top of the World”? That’s you, boss. That’s you.

So here’s our plan for getting your entire agenda done—all of it!—by May:

Prosecutorial discretion: Love this. Your top item? Cutting taxes. We have two words and one number for you: Tax Code, 73,954 pages. Is there a more unworkable law? ROFL! We’ve got an executive order ready instructing IRS agents not to enforce the code on any person or company who refuses to pay more than our new rates. Goodbye Alternative Minimum Tax, death tax, capital gains, restrictions on nonprofits. Hello, flat tax on a postcard.

Speaking of taxes, do remember to thank Chief Justice John Roberts for declaring the ObamaCare individual mandate a tax. Not enforcing that one, either! That’s O-Care repealed. Check. You ran on reducing the regulatory burden. We’re sending a list of rules under major laws that you can instruct agencies and the Justice Department to no longer uphold. You know, the damaging stuff buried in the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the National Labor Relations Act, Dodd-Frank, McCain-Feingold. All unworkable!

We’re also readying a memo for the Justice Department, listing areas in which it should forgo suits for federal violations: Title IX, voting rights, affirmative action, wages and overtime. It’s not like anyone can “make” us do anything. Ask all those marijuana smokers in Alaska.

Waivers: You ran on fixing the debt, by fixing entitlements. Done. You know all those states getting waivers to experiment with Medicaid or welfare? Smart, but small. We’re thinking that with an elastic enough reading of laws, we can waive our way out of an entitlement system altogether. Medicaid vouchers? Child’s play. Did you know the Social Security Act allows sweeping waivers to its programs in the case of a national emergency? We so feel a national emergency coming on. A big one. Long—four years, maybe eight. Don’t laugh. Mr. Obama made anything conceivable.

Agencies: Justice now has time on its hands, so we’re setting up a task force to bring criminal charges against slippery characters (folks who, bonus, Americans love to hate): trial firms, union shops. Obama showed with his banking and BP BP.LN -0.22% suits that if we go big and ugly, we won’t even have to test legal theories; the targets will roll, and agree to new restrictions. That’s tort and labor reform done. And we’re already directing your agencies to start authorizing moves that Congress won’t: drilling off the East Coast and in ANWR; health insurance across state lines; school vouchers. Sky’s the limit! What the last guy showed is that the federal architecture is now so complex that you can always find a loophole. Look at his climate program. (BTW, we are shutting that down. Today.)

Is any of this constitutional? Meh. (Shred this memo.) We suppose you could ask legal advice, but Obama was certainly never that dumb. Here was his epiphany: Nobody can really stop a president. Congress can only complain. The judiciary moves too slowly to make a difference (look at Obama’s illegal recess appointments). Turns out the only thing that ever really restrained the chief executive was that oath he took. Our side has always taken that seriously. Hmmm.

We know you ran on restoring the Constitution, and the other side is counting on your base holding you to that. What they don’t understand is plenty of our people would be equally happy to see you stick it to them. We could do the right thing; arguably should.

Then again, who will they be to complain if we don’t?

Respectfully, Your Team.

Write to kim@wsj.com.
143  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newet: Baraq's Gruber Speech on: November 24, 2014, 03:56:03 PM
The President's Gruber Speech
Originally published at CNN.com.

President Barack Obama's speech Thursday night was technically a fine speech. It sounded good. It was rhetorically impressive. Its problem – or perhaps to the President its virtue – is that very little of it was true.

President Obama described what sounded like a reasonable plan to prioritize the deportation of felons, criminals, and gang members over the deportation of other people in the United States illegally. "We'll prioritize," he said, "just like law enforcement does every day." The whole proposal was entirely within his authority, he argued, because it amounted to a kind of prosecutorial discretion: "All we’re saying is we’re not going to deport you."

But the policy the White House actually announced, as opposed to the policy the President described in his speech, was not merely a directive to emphasize enforcement against those who have committed crimes, or even a simple pause on deportations for millions of people here illegally. The policy the White House actually announced, in a memo from its Office of Legislative Affairs hours before the President's speech, was a 17 point plan including several new programs without Congressional approval, budget appropriation or spending authorization, and many of which the President either didn't mention or which bore only a faint resemblance to what he described in his speech.
The President, according to the White House, has directed the Department of Homeland Security to "create" a "new deferred action program" which will give millions of people here illegally "work authorizations" for at least three years. It establishes extensive new criteria by which people can register to be exempt from deportation. DHS will have to employ thousands of bureaucrats to process those who "come forward and register, submit biometric data, pass background checks, pay fees, and show that their child was born before the date of this announcement." Applicants supposedly will also have to prove they’ve been in the U.S. for at least five years and will have to pay taxes.
Well, a brand new program that hands out three-year work authorizations and processes more paperwork than many state DMVs is not merely saying, as the President put it in his speech, that "we're not going to deport you," and it is certainly not simple "prioritization" or "prosecutorial discretion," as many administration officials have been calling it before and after the announcement.

It is new law, created by the executive without Constitutional authority.

The President said in his speech that the new program will allow people here illegally to "come out of the shadows and get right with the law." Meanwhile administration officials explained on the record that he wasn't really legalizing anyone, since he couldn't technically do that.

The President also said in his speech that his actions would offer relief only to people who met certain criteria he described, including being in the country for at least five years and having child dependents in the U.S. But the actual policy memo makes clear that "DHS will direct all of its enforcement resources at pursuing" people who are "national security threats, serious criminals, and recent border crossers."

In other words, there will be one group, estimated at 4 million or so, who are eligible for the new work authorization program. But at the same time, there will be no resources directed at enforcing immigration law against the other 7 million people here illegally as long as they do not fall into a few narrow categories, according to the President's Office of Legislative Affairs. And indeed, a "senior administration official" told Roll Call that the administration "will order immigration agents to prioritize deportations of criminals and recent arrivals — and let people who are not on that priority list go free." This is not at all the program the president described in his speech.

President Obama said his plan would "stem the flow of illegal crossings" in the future. Yet every time the government has pledged to stop deporting certain classes of people in the past, there has been a huge surge in the number of illegal border crossings, including most recently the humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied minors on our southern border, which President Obama created with DACA, his last unauthorized executive action on immigration.

The President assured us his actions "are not only lawful, they’re the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican president and every single Democratic president for the past half century." Except the primary examples his administration cites are cases of presidents implementing Congressionally-approved amnesties, narrowly expanding them to include cases Congress didn't anticipate, with no objection from Congress. The President has no such Congressional sanction, and his actions are an order of magnitude larger.
This was a Gruber speech. It was designed to sound acceptable to the American people, even if it was largely a lie.

For those not familiar with Jonathan Gruber, he is the now infamous co-architect of Obamacare who was recently revealed on video bragging about the administration's deceitful approach to passing that law. Gruber described how Obamacare was written "in a tortured way to make sure" the CBO did not "score the mandate as taxes," even though the administration knew it was a tax. He described how the administration won support for the tax on "Cadillac" health plans "by mislabeling it, calling it a tax on insurance plans rather than a tax on people, when we know it’s a tax on people who hold these insurance plans"--a deception he thought to be a "very clever...exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter." Gruber described how the President "is not a stupid man" and understood Americans cared about cost control over coverage--so even though the bill was "90 percent health insurance coverage and 10 percent about cost control, all you ever hear people talk about is cost control."
With Obamacare, Gruber concluded, “the lack of transparency" was "a huge political advantage” and “the stupidity of the American voter" was "really, really critical for the thing to pass."

Listening to a speech in which the President lied about what he was proposing and lied about his authority to implement it, it was hard not to think of the Gruber model – which is really the Obama model, after all. He said what he needed to say to do what he wants to do.

Immigrants will "get right with the law," but not be "legalized," just as Obamacare's taxes weren't taxes, until they were taxes before the Supreme Court, but after which they weren't taxes again. Only immigrants who meet certain specific criteria will be eligible for relief, except for the millions of other people he doesn't mention for whom he will also stop enforcing the law.

In the past few years, President Obama has described 22 times on video how he doesn't have the legal and Constitutional authority to take many of the actions he announced Thursday night.

"With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed," he said in 2011. "…[W]e’ve got three branches of government. Congress passes the law. The executive branch’s job is to enforce and implement those laws...There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as President."

President Obama made a good case back then. It's a shame he apparently thinks, like Gruber, that Americans are all so stupid we won't figure out he's not telling us the truth today.

Your Friend,
Newt
144  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Benghazi and related matters on: November 24, 2014, 03:53:49 PM
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/11/22/leading-republican-wants-senate-to-join-house-probe-benghazi-attack/
145  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: November 21, 2014, 11:04:48 AM
If I am not mistaken, the permits are going to be paid for by the fees charged the illegals.

IMO this self-funding thing (also see Elizabeth Warren's work on self funding the Consumer Agency) is a deeply unC'l evasion of Congress's power of the purse.
146  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fire Hydrant: Howls from Crafty Dog, Rules of the Road, etc on: November 21, 2014, 11:02:20 AM
Off to Carbondale IL for Rob & Karen Gallegly!
147  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cochrane: What the Inequality Warriors really want on: November 20, 2014, 01:59:55 PM

http://online.wsj.com/articles/john-h-cochrane-what-the-inequality-warriors-really-want-1416442460
What the Inequality Warriors Really Want
By
John H. Cochrane
Updated Nov. 20, 2014 8:42 a.m. ET
 
 
Progressives decry inequality as the world’s most pressing economic problem. In its name, they urge much greater income and wealth taxation, especially of the reviled top 1% of earners, along with more government spending and controls—higher minimum wages, “living” wages, comparable worth directives, CEO pay caps, etc.

Inequality may be a symptom of economic problems. But why is inequality itself an economic problem? If some get rich and others get richer, who cares? If we all become poor equally, is that not a problem? Why not fix policies and problems that make it harder to earn more?

Yes, the reported taxable income and wealth earned by the top 1% may have grown faster than for the rest. This could be good inequality—entrepreneurs start companies, develop new products and services, and get rich from a tiny fraction of the social benefit. Or it could be bad inequality—crony capitalists who get rich by exploiting favors from government. Most U.S. billionaires are entrepreneurs from modest backgrounds, operating in competitive new industries, suggesting the former.

But there are many other kinds and sources of inequality. The returns to skill have increased. People who can use or program computers, do math or run organizations have enjoyed relative wage increases. But why don’t others observe these returns, get skills and compete away the skill premium? A big reason: awful public schools dominated by teachers unions, which leave kids unprepared even to enter college. Limits on high-skill immigration also raise the skill premium.

Americans stuck in a cycle of terrible early-child experiences, substance abuse, broken families, unemployment and criminality represent a different source of inequality. Their problems have proven immune to floods of government money. And government programs and drug laws are arguably part of the problem.

These problems, and many like them, have nothing to do with a rise in top 1% incomes and wealth.

Recognizing, I think, this logic, inequality warriors go on to argue that inequality is a problem because it causes other social or economic ills. A recent Standard & Poor’s report sums up some of these assertions: “As income inequality increased before the [2008 financial] crisis, less affluent households took on more and more debt to keep up—or, in this case, catch up—with the Joneses. ” In a 2011 Vanity Fair article, Columbia University economist Joe Stiglitz wrote that inequality causes a “lifestyle effect . . . people outside the top 1 percent increasingly live beyond their means.’’ He called it “trickle-down behaviorism.”

I see. A fry cook in Fresno hears that more hedge-fund managers are flying in private jets. So he buys a pickup he can’t afford. They are saying that we must tax away wealth to encourage thrift in the lower classes.

Here’s another claim: Inequality is a problem because rich people save too much. So, by transferring money from rich to poor, we can increase overall consumption and escape “secular stagnation.”

I see. Now we need to forcibly transfer wealth to solve our deep problem of national thriftiness.

You can see in these examples that the arguments are made up to justify a pre-existing answer. If these were really the problems to be solved, each has much more natural solutions.

Is eliminating the rich, to eliminate envy of their lifestyle, really the best way to stimulate savings? Might not, say, fixing the large taxation of savings in means-tested social programs make some sense? If lifestyle envy really is the mechanism, would it not be more effective to ban “Keeping Up With the Kardashians”?

If we redistribute because lack of Keynesian “spending” causes “secular stagnation”—a big if—then we should transfer money from all the thrifty, even poor, to all the big spenders, especially the McMansion owners with new Teslas and maxed-out credit cards. Is that an offensive policy? Yes. Well, maybe this wasn’t about “spending” after all.
There is a lot of fashionable talk about “redistribution” that’s not really the agenda. Even sky-high income and wealth taxes would not raise much revenue for very long, and any revenue is likely to fund government programs, not checks to the needy. Most inequality warriors, including President Obama, forthrightly advocate taxation to level incomes in the name of “fairness,” even if those taxes raise little or no revenue.

When you get past this kind of balderdash, most inequality warriors get down to the real problem they see: money and politics. They think money is corrupting politics, and they want to take away the money to purify the politics. As Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez wrote for his 2013 Arrow lecture at Stanford University: “top income shares matter” because the “surge in top incomes gives top earners more ability to influence [the] political process.”

A critique of rent-seeking and political cronyism is well taken, and echoes from the left to libertarians. But if abuse of government power is the problem, increasing government power is a most unlikely solution.

If we increase the top federal income-tax rate to 90%, will that not just dramatically increase the demand for lawyers, lobbyists, loopholes, connections, favors and special deals? Inequality warriors think not. Mr. Stiglitz, for example, writes that “wealth is a main determinant of power.” If the state grabs the wealth, even if fairly earned, then the state can benevolently exercise its power on behalf of the common person.

No. Cronyism results when power determines wealth. Government power inevitably invites the trade of regulatory favors for political support. We limit rent-seeking by limiting the government’s ability to hand out goodies.

So when all is said and done, the inequality warriors want the government to confiscate wealth and control incomes so that wealthy individuals cannot influence politics in directions they don’t like. Koch brothers, no. Public-employee unions, yes. This goal, at least, makes perfect logical sense. And it is truly scary.

Prosperity should be our goal. And the secrets of prosperity are simple and old-fashioned: property rights, rule of law, economic and political freedom. A limited government providing competent institutions. Confiscatory taxation and extensive government control of incomes are not on the list.

Mr. Cochrane is a professor of finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, and an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute.
148  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Robert Kaplan: The Realist Creed on: November 20, 2014, 01:51:46 PM

The Realist Creed
By Robert Kaplan

All people in foreign policy circles consider themselves realists, since all people consider themselves realistic about every issue they ever talk about. At the same time, very few consider themselves realists, since realism signifies, in too many minds, cynicism and failure to intervene abroad when human rights are being violated on a mass scale. Though everyone and no one is a realist, it is also true that realism never goes away -- at least not since Thucydides wrote The Peloponnesian War in the fifth century B.C., in which he defined human nature as driven by fear (phobos), self-interest (kerdos) and honor (doxa). And realism, as defined by perhaps the pre-eminent thinker in the field in the last century, the late Hans Morgenthau of the University of Chicago, is about working with the basest forces of human nature, not against them.

Why is realism timeless and yet reviled at the same time? Because realism tells the bitterest truths that not everyone wants to hear. For in foreign policy circles, as in other fields of human endeavor, people often prefer to deceive themselves. Let me define what realism means to me.

First of all, realism is a sensibility, a set of values, not a specific guide as to what to do in each and every crisis. Realism is a way of thinking, not a set of instructions as to what to think. It doesn't prevent you from making mistakes. This makes realism more an art than a science. That's why some of the best practitioners of realism in recent memory -- former U.S. National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft and former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker III -- never distinguished themselves as writers or philosophers. They were just practical men who had a knack for what made sense in foreign policy and what did not. And even they made mistakes. You can be an intellectual who has read all the books on realism and be an utter disaster in government, just as you could be a lawyer who has never read one book on realism and be a good secretary of state. Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was unique because he was both: an intellectual realist and a successful statesman. But successful statesmen, intellectual or not, must inculcate a set of beliefs that can be defined by what may be called the Realist Creed:

Order Comes Before Freedom. That's right. Americans may think freedom is the most important political value, but realists know that without order there can be no freedom for anyone. For if anarchy reigns and no one is in charge, freedom is worthless since life is cheap. Americans sometimes forget this basic rule of nature since they have taken order for granted -- because they always had it, a gift of the English political and philosophical tradition. But many places do not have it. That is why when dictators are overthrown, realists get nervous: They know that because stable democracy is not assured as a replacement, they rightly ask, Who will rule? Even tyranny is better than anarchy. To wit, Iraq under Saddam Hussein was more humane than Iraq under no one -- that is, in a state of sectarian war.

Work With the Material at Hand. In other words, you can't just go around the world toppling regimes you don't like because they do not adhere to the same human rights standards as you do, or because their leaders are corrupt or unenlightened, or because they are not democrats. You must work with what there is in every country. Yes, there might be foreign leaders so averse to your country's interests that it will necessitate war or sanctions on your part; but such instances will be relatively rare. When it comes to foreign rulers, realists revel in bad choices; idealists often mistakenly assume that there should be good ones.

Think Tragically in Order to Avoid Tragedy. Pessimism has more value than misplaced optimism. Because so many regimes around the world are difficult or are in difficult straits, realists know that they must always be thinking about what could go wrong. Foreign policy is like life: The things you worry about happening often turn out all right, precisely because you worried about them and took protective measures accordingly; it is the things you don't worry about and that happen unexpectedly that cause disaster. Realists are good worriers.

Every Problem Does Not Have a Solution. It is a particular conceit that every problem is solvable. It isn't. Mayhem and human rights violations abound, even as the United States cannot intervene everywhere or take foreign policy positions that will necessarily help. That's why realists are comfortable doing little or nothing in certain instances, even as they feel just as bad as idealists about heartrending situations.

Interests Come Before Values. A nation such as the United States has interests in secure sea lines of communication, access to energy, a soft dominance in the Western Hemisphere and a favorable balance of power in the Eastern Hemisphere. These are amoral concerns that, while not necessarily in conflict with liberal values, operate in a different category from them. If Arab dictatorships will better secure safe sea lanes in and out of energy-producing areas than would chaotic democracies, realists will opt for dictatorship, knowing that it is a tragic yet necessary decision.

American Power Is Limited. The United States cannot intervene everywhere or even in most places. Precisely because America is a global power, it must try to avoid getting bogged down in any one particular place. The United States can defend treaty and de facto allies with its naval, air and cyber power. It can infiltrate communications networks the world over. It can, in short, do a lot of things. But it cannot set to rights complex Islamic societies in deep turmoil. So another thing realists are good at -- and comfortable with -- is disappointing people. In fact, one might say that foreign policy at its best is often about disappointing people, not always creating opportunities so much as keeping even worse things from happening.

Passion and Good Policy Often Don't Go Together. Foreign policy requires practitioners among whom the blood runs cold. While loud voices abound about doing something, the person in charge must quietly ask himself or herself, If I do this, what will happen two steps down the road, three steps down the road, and so forth? For passion can easily flip: Those screaming the loudest for intervention today can be the same ones calling your intervention flawed or insufficient after you have embarked on the fateful enterprise.
Reading this list, you might think that realism is immoral. That would be wrong. Rather, realism is imbued with a hard morality of best possible outcomes under the circumstances rather than a soft morality of good intentions. For there is a big difference between being moral and moralistic: The former celebrates difficult choices and the consequences that follow, while the latter abjures them. Realism is a hard road. The policymaker who lives by its dictums will often be rebuked while in office and fondly recalled as a statesman in the years and decades following. Look at George H.W. Bush. But foreign policy realists who have served in high office, I suspect, are more comfortable with the kind of loneliness that comes with rebuke than some of their idealist counterparts. Loneliness is normal for the best policymakers; it is the craving for the adoring crowd that is dangerous.

Robert D. Kaplan is Chief Geopolitical Analyst at Stratfor, a geopolitical intelligence firm, and author of Asia's Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific.
149  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: November 20, 2014, 01:39:53 PM
Here's my suggestion for the Reps:

The underlying hold up is that the border is not protected , , , so PROTECT THE BORDER.

Pass a bill that genuinely closes the border.  Make Obama face signing or vetoing it.

This seems to me a good tip of the spear for everything else.
150  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We continue to be wrong about inflation on: November 20, 2014, 01:37:10 PM
Data Watch
________________________________________
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) was Unchanged in October To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Bob Stein, CFA - Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 11/20/2014

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) was unchanged in October versus the consensus expected decline of 0.1%. The CPI is up 1.7% versus a year ago.
“Cash” inflation (which excludes the government’s estimate of what homeowners would charge themselves for rent) declined 0.1% in October, but is up 1.3% in the past year.
Energy prices declined 1.9% in October, while food prices increased 0.1%. The “core” CPI, which excludes food and energy, rose 0.2% versus consensus expectations of 0.1%. Core prices are up 1.8% versus a year ago.

Real average hourly earnings – the cash earnings of all workers, adjusted for inflation – rose 0.1% in October, and are up 0.4% in the past year. Real weekly earnings are up 0.9% in the past year.

Implications: Next time you see an energy engineer, remember to give them a hug. They deserve it. Energy prices fell for a fourth straight month in October and continue to mute rising prices elsewhere for consumers. Consumer prices are up a modest 1.7% in the past year and the key reasons is America’s booming energy production and, as a result, lower world oil prices. The gasoline index is down 5% in the past year and now stands at the lowest level since February 2011. Given the continued drop in oil prices in the first half of November, look for another tame reading on overall price gains in next month’s report. However, there are sectors where inflation is moving higher. Food and beverage prices are up at a 3.1% annual rate in the past six months and up 2.9% in the past year. So if you only use the supermarket to gauge inflation, we understand thinking the headline reports are too low and that “true” inflation is higher. In addition, housing costs are going up. Owners’ equivalent rent, which makes up about ¼ of the overall CPI, rose 0.2% in October, is up 2.7% in the past year, and will be a key source of any acceleration in inflation in the year ahead. One of the best pieces of news in today’s report was that “real” (inflation-adjusted) average hourly earnings rose 0.1% in October. These earnings are up 0.4% from a year ago and workers are also adding to their purchasing power because of more jobs and more hours worked. Plugging today’s CPI data into our models suggests the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, the PCE deflator, was probably unchanged in October. If so, it would be up 1.4% from a year ago, still below the Fed’s target of 2%. We expect this measure to eventually hit and cross the 2% target, but given the bonanza from fracking and horizontal drilling, not until next year. In other news this morning, new claims for unemployment insurance declined 2,000 last week to 291,000. Continuing claims fell 73,000 to 2.33 million, a new low for the recovery. Plugging these figures into our employment models suggests nonfarm payrolls are growing 200,000 in November, with private payrolls up 191,000.
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